E2 business visa a popular entry option for US

There has been steady growth in the E2 visa over the past few years. An option open to people with substantial money, basically it is a way to buy entry into the U.S. without actually "immigrating."

Due to technical definition, an E2 visa is considered a non-immigration visa. However, once an investor is able to qualify and enter into the U.S. in this category, they are able to look for other opportunities and to apply for green cards and eventually citizenship.

28,290 E2's were issued in 2005, an increase of approximately 40% since 1997. The U.S. does not set a specific investment amount; rather it vaguely states that a business owner must invest a "substantial amount of capital" that generates "more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family."

Usually this means quite substantial, but increasingly people are learning how to purchase smaller businesses or create new ones from scratch on a small budget. Usually this means about $100,000 USD, but it can be done for a bit less.

When compared to the other expenses and the long waiting period for more traditional entry methods, it is actually a fairly standard investment.

Other considerations are that new business owners can issue work invitations and work contracts to help assist themselves and family members gain entry. The method can be complex, but with some study and assistance it can be a cost effective way to gain green cards, work permits and, eventually, citizenship for those who are interested.

For examples, people from Japan attained 12,010 E2 visas in 2005, up 16 percent from 1997. UK citizens were granted 3,170 E2 visas, an increase of 47 percent from 1997. Germans were issued 3,066 visas in 2005, up 85 percent from 1997. At 2,169, the number of E2's issued to South Koreans in 2005 more than doubled from 1997.

Even more important, at this time there are no quotas for E2 visas. So long as investors are citizens of a country that has signed a special commerce treaty with the United States, they are eligible. It is up to the individual if they wish to use the E2 merely for business, or if they also wish to use it as an immigration vehicle.

Standard approval from the Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for other visas for applications as temporary skilled-worker or other business visas can take years to be processed.

An E2 approval is typically 16 to 20 weeks in Britain, while an H1B visa (for comparison) for temporary skilled workers have years-long waiting lists for countries like India. The E2 visa is typically issued for two years. It can be renewed indefinitely as long as the investor is running the business and it generates "more than enough revenue" to support the investor's family. The E2 visa also covers the investor's spouse and children under age 21.

Investors can eventually apply for green cards and then citizenship. Many are finding they can sell their homes in the country of origin to generate enough capital to fund their new E2 enterprise.