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How Much Do You Need to Invest to Get an E-2 Visa?

How Much Investment Is Required for an E-2 Visa Business Plan?

An immigration attorney emailed me yesterday morning to ask whether I’d ever seen a successful E-2 visa case where the investment was under $50,000. My initial response (I'm paraphrasing) was “No. We’ve been hired to write for applicants where the figure was lower than that, but I can’t recall an approval--at least one I learned about--lower than probably $60,000” (an admittedly arbitrary watermark around which I could recall a handful of success stories).

Across the nearly 1,000 E-2 visa business plans Masterplans has written since George W. was in office, the vast majority land above the oft-cited $100,000 threshold. Most attorneys I know like to see $125,000 or $150,000 on their E-2s, and some pricier firms with well-heeled clients routinely send cases our way where the investment level is two to three times that amount.

But immediately after sending this quick reply, I remembered a recent email, sent by a client who hired us this spring for what she described as a very modest project: specifically, a rewrite of her own work, an updated industry report, and some financial modeling to help support her attorney’s petition for her five-year visa. She stressed that controlling costs was important, and when I saw her planned investment total, I could understand why: there simply wasn’t much cash in this business.

Anyway, her message to us was one of gratitude, smiley-face and all, because her case was APPROVED. The total outlay? $46,087. Remembering this bit of praise, I opened the plan on my phone (confession: I was at my daughter's swimming lesson by this point), took a screenshot of the Sources & Uses of Funds table, and emailed it to the attorney who’d asked about the $50k, with a "Wait, well actually..."

(For the record, without betraying any client confidences, this woman was from Eastern Europe and she owns a small existing business in the education industry that operates in New England.)

Is it ideal to file an E-2 with such a low investment? Probably not. Is it tenable? If the business doesn’t require more capital than that, and can operate successfully in the U.S. under this person's guidance, then … possibly.

We’re all happier when an E-2 petitioner has more cash to put forward than this. It makes a case feel stronger and paves the way for a winning argument to the adjudicator that the company can thrive quickly and even support some new U.S. jobs. Moreover, clients with $200,000 or more to invest are far less likely to be turned off by the necessary legal fees, filing costs, and — yes — our own fee for the business plan. This sense of ease can facilitate the whole process from the initial consult on, something I imagine is true not just for service providers like us, but for lawyers as well.

This isn’t exactly a cautionary tale about turning away business that could have a potentially satisfying outcome; rather, it’s a good reminder that the investment for an E-2 is meant to be proportional to the business model, and if everything else is in order, a consular officer may just green-light something that initially seemed like a tough sell. I’m sure the client is grateful for the result, but I'm equally grateful for the case study.

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