Home - E2 Visa Guide for UK Nationals
An E2 visa is a great opportunity for British entrepreneurs who want to invest in the United States. This guide covers E2 visa essentials for UK nationals looking to start their businesses in the US. From investment requirements to application processes, we’ve got you covered every step of the way.
The E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows citizens of treaty countries, such as the United Kingdom, to invest in and manage businesses within the United States. This visa aims to foster international trade and investments by granting entrepreneurs the opportunity to bolster the US economy. For UK nationals looking to establish or take over a business in the US, the E2 visa is a sought-after option.
The E2 visa offers several benefits for UK nationals considering business investment in the US:
Direct business involvement
E2 visa holders can actively manage and operate their businesses, ensuring a hands-on approach to their investment. They can establish or acquire various business types, from startups to franchises.
E2 visa holders can express their intent to pursue permanent residency while holding the visa, offering a potential pathway to a green card.
The E2 visa allows immediate family members, including spouses and children under 21, to join the visa holder in the US under E2 dependent visas.
As long as the business remains operational and successful, the E2 visa can be extended indefinitely, providing stability for long-term business growth.
Fast processing times
E2 visa applications often have faster processing times than other visa categories, allowing entrepreneurs to start their business ventures sooner.
By adhering to the E2 visa eligibility criteria below, applicants can effectively pursue their entrepreneurial dreams in the United States.
The good news for UK nationals is that they qualify as citizens of a treaty country, which is the foundational requirement for pursuing an E2 visa.
Significant capital investment
UK applicants must invest a substantial amount of capital in a legitimate US business venture. The investment should be substantial enough to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise and generate income.
Active managerial role
Applicants should actively manage or oversee the US business’s operations, showcasing their leadership and decision-making responsibilities. They must also own at least 50% of the business or demonstrate an essential position within the company’s organizational structure.
Genuine business risk
The concept of “at-risk” investment is a key aspect of the E2 visa. It means that the invested funds should genuinely contribute to the business and be subject to potential loss if it faces challenges. In other words, the investment should actively support the business’s operations and cannot be easily recovered.
Valid business entity
The business receiving the investment must be a bona fide commercial entity engaged in ongoing profit-generating activities. This ensures that the investment aligns with the purpose of the E2 visa program—to contribute to the US economy by establishing and operating legitimate enterprises.
Transparent source of funds
Applicants must provide clear documentation of the lawful origin of their investment funds, ranging from personal savings to legitimate sources of income.
Intent to depart
Demonstrating an intent to depart the US upon visa expiration is essential to ensure that the visa serves its intended purpose of facilitating temporary business activities.
No criminal record
Applicants must not have a criminal record that would render them ineligible for a US visa under the grounds of criminal activity or security concerns.
UK nationals applying for an E2 visa have specific requirements to fulfill beyond the general qualifications. One unique aspect is the residency requirement, which states that applicants must reside in the UK at the time of application.
However, this condition can be interpreted flexibly for UK citizens living abroad, provided they can demonstrate strong ties to the UK. These ties can take various forms, such as the following:
Owning property in the UK
Recent pay slips with tax and national insurance payments
Maintaining UK connections during temporary work abroad
Having family in the UK (spouse/children attending school)
Proof of local utility bill payments (gas, water, electric, council taxes)
Current lease or mortgage payment
Payment of inland revenue taxes or bank statements with local transactions
Note that the Embassy doesn’t accept certain documents for residency proof, such as a UK driver’s license, car ownership proof, TV license, doctor or dentist info, cell phone bills, and rewards/sports club cards.
The E2 Visa investment doesn’t have a set minimum, but it must be substantial and proportional to the business’s total cost. This showcases your commitment to your business’s success and growth in its initial years. Usually, investments of around $100,000 or more are considered fitting, underlining your dedication to ensuring your business thrives and expands during its crucial early stages.
How Can UK Nationals Apply for an E2 Visa?
The E2 visa application process offers two pathways for UK nationals:
Application Within the US
If you’re legally present in the US, you can switch your status to an E2 visa. This requires filing Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker, with the USCIS. The petition should demonstrate your nationality, investment, and intent to return.
If you are part of a company, your employer files Form I-129. Upon approval, you receive Form I-797, Approval Notice.
Application from the UK
Applying for an E2 visa from the UK involves several steps:
Fill out form DS-160, Non-immigrant Visa Application, providing your information and purpose of travel.
Pay the application fee and potential additional fees based on your home country.
Create a visa appointment. Log in to your Visa Appointment Service account and schedule an interview at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate in the UK. The primary locations where you can apply for an E2 visa interview in the UK include:
US Embassy London: 33 Nine Elms Ln, SW11 7US, London
US Consulate General Belfast: 223 Stranmillis Road, BT9 5GR, Belfast, United Kingdom
Prepare your document file on the interview day, including:
Filed Form DS-160.
US visa-compliant photos.
Receipt for the application fee payment.
Form DS-156E if an Executive/Manager/Essential employee.
Proof of intent to return, such as property deeds or apartment lease.
Proof of bona fide business, including licenses, financial statements, office lease, and more.
Proof of substantial investment, like bank statements and business plan.
Attend the interview where your purpose, intentions, and plans will be discussed.
How Long Does It Take To Process an E2 Visa Application?
The processing time for an E2 visa application can vary, typically ranging from a few weeks to several months. However, applicants who apply from within the US can expedite the process by choosing premium processing, which guarantees a response within 15 calendar days for an additional fee. This can be particularly beneficial for those who need a quicker decision on their visa application.
How Long Can an E2 Visa Investor Stay in the US?
Initially, an E2 visa is usually granted for 2 years. During this time, you can actively manage and grow your invested business. As the initial period nears its end, you can apply for extensions to prolong your stay and continue operating your business in the United States.
Can I Move to the US with My Spouse and Children Under an E2 Visa?
You can relocate to the US with your spouse and children under an E2 visa. The E2 visa allows you to bring your immediate family members, including your spouse and unmarried children under 21, to live with you in the United States.
However, it’s important to note that your family members must also be citizens of the United Kingdom to be eligible for the E2 visa sponsorship. Your children can attend school in the US, and your spouse can also apply for a work permit to legally work in the country.
Can E2 Visa Holders Apply For US Permanent Residency?
E2 visa holders can apply for US permanent residency, also known as a green card, under certain conditions. While the E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, it can be a stepping stone towards obtaining a green card. E2 visa holders can explore various avenues to transition to permanent residency:
EB-5 Investor Visa
E2 visa holders can apply for an EB-5 investor visa, which offers a path to green card status. This option typically involves a significant investment in a new commercial enterprise that creates jobs in the US.
EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW)
The NIW is another pathway for obtaining a US green card. This allows individuals with exceptional abilities or advanced degrees to apply for a green card without the requirement of employer sponsorship if their work is deemed to be in the national interest of the United States.
Family-Based Green Cards
Depending on the relationship, E2 visa holders with family members who are US citizens or green card holders may be eligible for family-sponsored green cards.
Applying for an E2 visa can be complex, especially for UK nationals aiming to start businesses in the US. That’s where E2VisaFranchises comes in. We can help you pick the right franchise investment that fits your goals and visa needs, making your journey smoother. Our platform offers franchise options in various sectors, allowing you to explore opportunities that match your plans.
Contact us today to simplify your E2 visa journey!
The E2 visa offers several benefits to UK nationals, including the ability to actively manage businesses in the US, the option to express dual intent for potential permanent residency, the inclusion of immediate family members, unlimited extensions as long as the business remains operational, and faster processing times compared to some other visa categories.
UK nationals applying for an E2 visa should generally reside in the UK at the time of application. However, flexibility is allowed for UK citizens living abroad if they can demonstrate strong ties to the UK, such as owning property, maintaining financial connections, having family in the UK, and more.
While there is no set minimum investment amount, it must be substantial and proportional to the total cost of the business. Generally, investments of around $100,000 or more are considered suitable, indicating a commitment to the success and growth of the business.
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