E-2 Visa Residency Requirement for UK Nationals
What is E-2 Investor Visa?
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is the perfect option for individuals who are looking to move, reside, and work in the United States by investing a substantial amount of money in a U.S. business enterprise.
The E-2 Visa is available for citizens from countries that maintain special commerce treaties with the United States. An updated list of E-2 Visa Treaty Countries is held by the US Department of State and may be found here.
Key employees covering an executive or managerial position or employees with skills essential to the successful outcome of the enterprise may be eligible as well, and no investment is required from these categories.
Same goes for close family members, such as spouse and underage children.
E-2 Visas can be valid for periods of up to 5 years and can be renewed indefinitely if the beneficiary and the business maintain the necessary qualifications.
What does “investing” in a U.S. business mean?
Investing in a U.S. business means either forming a business from ground-up or purchasing assets or shares of an existing business.
In the first case, investment funds will be used to cover the start-up costs, in the second case the investment will be represented by the purchase price.
When an investment may be considered “substantial”?
Despite the common belief on this topic, there is no minimum amount required for the investment. However, the investment should be “substantial”. But, what exactly “substantial” means?
An investment is considered substantial when it is:
- Proportioned to the total cost of either purchasing an existing business or creating a new one.
- Appropriate to support the likelihood of success of the business within a few years following its establishment.
For additional information regarding the E-2 Visa investment requirements, you may read our related article here.
What does investment “at risk” mean?
According to E-2 Visa guidelines, funds have to be “irrevocably at risk” at the time of the application, meaning the investment money should be used to finance the start-up business expenses and should be subject to economic loss in the event the enterprise fails. In other words, the invested funds should not be recoverable.
As noted above, at the time you file the E-2 Visa application, the start-up phase of your enterprise should be already in progress. That means that you must have already:
- Created a US business entity (read here regarding the options in forming a US company).
- Transferred the funds from your domestic account to the US entity bank account.
- Utilized the majority of these funds (at least 70% to stay on the safe side) for business-related expenses, such as rent, equipment, lawyers, and accountants, or to purchase the business if you are acquiring an existing one.
What’s specific about E-2 Visa for UK citizens
The E-2 Visa process is subject to specific rules depending on the country, although the main rules are the same for everybody. The treaty between the United States and a particular country ultimately governs and may establish variations from the general body of rules.
Differences may arise in terms of duration, for example. E-2 Visa may be granted for periods of 3 months to up to 5 years, and it could be “single entry” or “multi-entry”.
Nationals of the United Kingdom may qualify for a 5 year multi-entry E-2 Visa, which is very favorable compared to some other countries.
However, pursuant to the Treaty between UK and US, UK nationals are subject to a specific residency requirement, as opposed to the majority of the other treaty countries.
Specifically, in order to qualify for E-2 Visa, UK nationals should be residing in the UK at the time of the application. If that’s not the case, they may not qualify for E-2 Visa.
What does “UK residency” specifically mean for E-2 Visa purposes?
The treaty between UK and U.S. does not define the “residency” requirement in details, leaving ample room for interpretation.
There is no question that someone that currently lives and work in the UK at the time of the E-2 Visa application meets the residency requirement. But what about UK nationals that live abroad? Will they ever be able to meet this requirement?
Typically, the answer is no, they don’t. However, the residency requirement, as noted above, may be twisted a little bit. This is the case when a UK citizen may show that he or she has maintained sufficient ties to the United Kingdom although living abroad.
These ties may be evidenced by showing that the UK national:
- Maintains a bank account in UK
- Owns real estate properties in UK
- Possesses a UK driver’s license
- Has filed tax returns in UK
- Has a temporary work assignment outside the UK
- Has spouse and/or children still living / going to school in the UK
- Maintains a UK phone number
Our E-2 Visa attorneys have been filing E-2 Visa application all over the world and they are well aware of the different rules in the E-2 Visa process depending on the country. Of course, we have filed applications in the UK as well and our expertise can definitely help overcome the hurdles that a UK national may face in applying for E-2 Visa.