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How Much Do You Need to Invest to Get a US Visa

The E-Visa category was crafted for business owners, managers and employees seeking to work in the US for extended periods of time, and the E-2 category was specifically designed for investors of US enterprises.

The most frequently asked question regarding the E-2 process is “how much do I need to invest to get the Visa?” Unfortunately, there is no straight forward answer to this inquiry, but rather a substantiality test to be met, which is informed by years of case law and guidance.

One of the lowest monetary investments that successfully passed the substantiality test was the one in the Matter of Walsh and Pollard (1988). In that case, there were two applicants (citizens of Great Britain) who were automotive design engineers working for IAD Modern Design, Ltd. (“IAD”). IAD had a contract to provide General Motors (“GM”) with experienced automotive design engineers so that GM could make cars in a more European fashion. To facilitate and expand its relationship with American automobile manufacturers, IAD formed IAD Modern Design, Inc. (“IAD USA”), a wholly owned subsidiary.

At issue was whether IAD qualified as a treaty investor by reason of its investment in IAD USA. IAD USA rented office space, purchased equipment, hired 2 US employees and had $15,000 in a corporate bank account. In evaluating the substantiality of the investment, the Chief Immigration Judge went on to explain how the analysis should proceed.

“Using a “proportionality test,” the consular officer should weigh the amount invested against either 1) the total value of the particular enterprise in question, or 2) the amount normally considered necessary to establish a viable enterprise of the nature contemplated. The alien need only satisfy the requirement of “substantiality” in one of the above ways, not both…[T]he amount normally considered necessary to establish an enterprise is less susceptible to precise calculation. Here, the consular officer must draw on personal knowledge of the U.S. business scene to judge whether the amount the alien proposes to invest is reasonable for that type of business…”

Considering the above criteria, it was found that IAD’s investment was substantial. The judge explained that in that case the amount needed was not large because the business was already operational and engaged in business activity.

Courts have further explained that for an investment to be considered substantial, the investment must be more than what is needed for the applicant to solely make a living. If you are considering applying for an E2 Visa, you should seek legal counsel to inquire as to your eligibility.