Historically, the United States has provided favor to countries with which it has a treaty regarding commerce, especially when it comes to fostering trade between citizens of sovereign nations. It’s in this spirit that the US government allows “temporary visitors” to the country to apply for an E-2 visa. The E-2 visa allows those who receive it to enter the US to invest in and run a small business. The investor must be a citizen of a nation with which the US government has a treaty involving “commerce and navigation.” Additionally, the investor must “have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital” in their business and must be substantially involved in running the business.
The US Department of State has a list of nations whose citizens are eligible to apply for an E-2 visa. The list includes nations that you’d expect, like traditional allies in Europe and our NAFTA trade partners.
According to an article in Forbes magazine, the INS will start to take applicants seriously when their investment is around $200,000 or more, even though the INS doesn't specify an amount of money you need to receive the visa. The government wants investors with enough skin in the game to show they are serious about making the business a success.
Investor in Charge
The E-2 applicant has to be able to show that they own at least “50% of the enterprise” or are in a position to run the business as a corporate CEO or similar. Essentially, E-2 applicants need to show they are ready and able to run the business and the will do what it takes to make the business profitable. This would benefit the US economy through capital expenditures and hiring employees.