E Visas or Investor Visas: FAQs

1. I want to start my own business in the U.S., is there anything I could do to maintain my legal status?

There are two types of visas that generally will allow an individual to open and maintain a business in the U.S. under certain conditions. First, an E Visa allows an individual to invest money in the formation of a new business. There are several conditions that must be met for this visa, including that there must be a treaty between the U.S. and the country of citizenship of the individual seeking the visa. In addition to this, the investment must be substantial and pass a substantiality test, and the investment capital must be at risk. (See E Visa process and documents needed on our website at: E-1 and E-2 Visa)

The other potential option is an L-1A Visa which allows an individual to enter the U.S. for the formation of a new business if there is a foreign company, or entity, that is “affiliated” with the new business and the individual seeking the visa has previously been employed with the foreign “affiliated” company outside of the U.S. in an executive or managerial capacity for at least one year of the last three years.

In order to maintain your non-immigrant status you must comply with the terms of your existing visa and you must file for any change in status prior to the expiration of the date identified in your I-94. If your I-94 does not contain a date and instead has the letters D/S (Duration of Status), for a student, then the application for change of status must be filed prior to the expiration of the date set by your form I-20 or in the alternative, set by the work authorization card you received for Optional Practical Training.

2. How much money do I have to invest to apply for an E Visa?

There is no set amount for investment in connection with an E Visa. The investment must be substantial and appropriate for the type of business venture you are undertaking. An analysis of the proposed business plan generally will reveal if the proposed investment is substantial. This should ideally be reviewed by an immigration attorney. You may schedule a initial consultation by contacting our office at: 617-303-2600

3. How long does the U.S. company have to be open before it can sponsor me for an E visa?

The U.S. company may apply for your E Visa, as soon as it opens.

4. Can my wife/children work or study in the U.S., if I have the E Visa status?

Yes, as E Visa derivatives, your wife/children may study in the U.S. and they may be eligible for employment authorization, which will allow them to work in the U.S.

5. What documents do I need to get the E Visa?

For a full list of documents required for the E Visa, please visit the following page on our site: E-1 and E-2 Visa

6. How much money does the company need to make to sponsor me for an E Visa?

There is no set amount of profits needed. However the net profits or the estimated future net profits (in the case of a start-up company) should be sufficient to support the salary of a high level executive in the company.

7. Can I accept employment from another company while I am under an E or L Visa?

No, you may not work for another employer under either the L or E Visa. However, you may apply for a different type of visa that may allow you to work for a different company. Bear in mind that you need to wait until your new visa is approved before starting employment with the new company.

8. Are there numerical limitations for E or L Visas?

There are no numerical limitations for E or L Visas.

9. Can I transfer an E or L Visa to another company?

No, you may not transfer an E or an L Visa from one company to another as they are company specific. The new company must apply for the new visa status. However, it would be extremely unusual situation in which someone could apply for a new L Visa with a different company.

10. How many E Visa holders can work in the U.S. for the same company at the same time?

There are no numerical limitations for the number of E Visa holders employed by a company as long as they fulfill the visa requirements.

11. Are my family members eligible for H-1b Visa status, if I am under an E visa?

Yes, if there are H Visas available and the individual with an E derivative visa has an employer willing to sponsor him/her.

12. What happens if I sell shares of my company and I am in the U.S. under an E Visa status?

You may be at risk of violating the terms of your visa. You should consult with an attorney before transferring or selling any company shares.

13. What is my status while my first E Visa application is pending?

You will be under your previous visa status until it expires, after which, you will be lawfully present and “in status” for the purpose of changing your status only.

14. What status can my spouse and children get if I’m applying for an E Visa or I already have an E Visa?

They may obtain status as a derivative visa beneficiary of the primary E Visa holder.

15. Can an E Visa holder’s family members work or study in the US?

Spouses of E Visa holders are authorized to work and study in the U.S. However, children are not allowed to work (only study), with the exception of unmarried dependent children of a TECRO (Taiwan Economic Cultural Representative Office) employee.

16. How long does the E Visa status last? How many times may I renew it?

An E Visa application may be approved for 1 to 2 years if the petition is filed in the United States, or for a longer period if it is filed at a U.S. consulate abroad (generally up to 5 years). There is no time or numerical limitation on E Visa renewals and therefore the E visa status may be renewed and extended indefinitely as long as the requirements for the visa continue to be met.

17. How long do I have to leave the country after my E Visa status expires or my company is no longer in business?

There is no “grace period” with E Visas. An E Visa holder must depart the U.S. immediately upon expiration of his/her E Visa or as soon as there is no longer compliance with the E Visa requirements or conditions (i.e. my investment or company has ceased).


The information contained in this document is general in nature and subject to change at any point in time. As such, it may not necessarily apply to all situations. Therefore, under no circumstance it should be construed as legal advice. Please ensure that you consult with an attorney regarding your specific situation before starting a legal process.

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