The E-2 Visa “Substantial” Investment Requirement

How much do you need to invest in order to get an E-2 investor visa?

Well, you must make a “substantial” investment.

How much is that? What amount constitutes a substantial investment?

U.S. immigration law doesn’t answer that question with a specific dollar figure. Instead, a substantial investment for purposes of U.S. immigration law is an amount that is:

  • Substantial in a proportional sense (aka, the “proportionality test”);
  • Sufficient to ensure the E-2 visa applicant’s financial commitment to business enterprise; and
  • Large enough to support a likelihood of success of the E-2 visa enterprise over time.

Since that definition leaves a lot of room for subjectivity, many U.S. consulates apply informal investment thresholds about what constitutes a substantial amount.

These amounts vary from country to country, but in practice a realistic minimum investment should be at least $100,000 USD.

Does that mean you can’t be approved for an E-2 visa with an investment less than $100,000? No, some service businesses get approved with considerably less than that, but the lower your investment amount, the higher your risk of rejection. In practice, once a U.S. consular official sees a total investment of less than $100,000, a red flag tends to go up.

Does that mean that you’re guaranteed to be approved for an E-2 visa if you invest at least $100,000? No, if you’re investing in the type of E-2 business that typically requires a much larger investment in order to operate properly and successfully, your application won’t be approved. It depends on the nature of your business and what is required to show your financial commitment and a high likelihood of success.

How do you prove that your investment is substantial?

You have to submit documents that clearly show you have invested 100% (or nearly 100%) of the costs to set up and run the business successfully.

For an established business, they’re going to look at the fair market price and industry norms. This can be relatively easy to do if you purchase a well-known franchise operation, for example.

For a start-up, they’re going to look at what it takes to successfully start-up, manage, and operate a new business like that. So you’re going to need to provide an outstanding E-2 business plan and lots of compelling documentary evidence that you’ve spent all of the funds that are necessary to be successful in the United States.

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