E-2 Investment Visa Dependents

US Visa in Thailand

Foreign nationals from countries that have an investment treaty with the United States may invest in a physical business enterprise in the United States and obtain E-2 visas for themselves. While the E-2 Visa is intended for investors, the variant E-2 Dependent Visa is catered towards spouses and dependents so that they would be allowed to accompany E-2 Visa holders in the US.

Dependents can also include employees of E-2 Visa holders, who in turn are given the same privilege to bring along their spouses and children. However, the employees must be essential for the business operation and share the same nationality as the E-2 visa holder. Once their requirements have been approved, they will be allowed the same duration of stay in the US as the E-2 visa holder.

This article outlines who can qualify for an E-2 Dependent Visa as well as certain prohibitions that apply along the way.

E-2 Visa Dependents

E-2 Visa for Employees

There are two classes of employees (treaty nationals) that can obtain an E-2 visa.

  1. Executive Supervisory Capacity

    An executive employee’s principal role must be supervisory. They must be overseeing the daily business operations and supervising employees. Routine staff work should be a minor part of their job duties. Great weight is also given to the size of the business operation. For example, a manager for a two-person office will have a difficult time being recognized as an executive.

  2. Essential Skills Employees

    An essential skills employee can qualify for an E-2 Visa if they have special qualifications that make their job skills essential to the efficient operation of the business enterprise. Essential skills employees must have specialized knowledge or proprietary knowledge that is not readily available in the United States. The essential skills employee provides evidence of the experience and training necessary to achieve such skills. Essential skills employees are expected to help train US workers. There may be a long-term ongoing need for an essential skills employee if the need for quality control and product improvement can be established.

E-2 Visa for Immediate Relatives

Immediate relative family members of the E Principle Investor and E-2 Employees are entitled to enter the United States as E-2 Dependents. Immediate family members include the spouse of the visa holder and unmarried children under the age of 21. If the children become 21 years old or get married, they automatically lose their E-2 status. If the principal E-2 visa holder and the E-2 dependent spouse get divorced, the spouse will lose their E-2 status.

Children who lose that status as they turn 21 will need to apply for a visa in their own right to be able to stay in the United States. For example, an F-1 visa to pursue or complete an academic course at a US college, or an M-1 visa to pursue or complete a vocational course.

Ineligibility Criteria for an E-2 Dependent Visa

While the E-2 Dependent Visa provides numerous incentives for the original E-2 Visa holder to bring along their spouses, there are certain prohibitions that may make a spouse unable to qualify as an E-2 Dependent. And of course, if the dependent has ever been declared “inadmissible” by US immigration, they will be barred from entry unless they complete a successful I-601 Waiver.

US Law does not recognize common-law relationships. If the original E-2 visa holder lives with a partner in an unmarried relationship, then their partner will not be eligible to apply for an E-2 Dependent Visa. However, if the E-2 visa holder has married a person of the same sex, and that marriage is valid in the country where it took place, it is valid for the purposes of an E-2 Visa.

Conversely, parents, grandparents, as well as brothers and sisters of the E-2 visa holder will not be eligible for an E-2 dependent status as they are not considered immediate family, unlike spouses and children. This rule applies even if the principal applicant or primary visa-holder is the main breadwinner or caretaker. Instead, these relatives will need to apply for a visa in their own right, such as a B-2 Visitor Visa.

Benefits for an E-2 Dependent

  • The E-2 Spouse can obtain employment authorization and work legally in the United States. They are NOT required to work for the business in which the E-2 visa holder has made an investment.
  • E-2 principles and their dependents can get US Social Security Cards and Driver's Licenses.
  • E-2 dependent children are able to enroll in both private and public schools in the United States.
  • E-2 dependents can extend their visa as long as the primary E-2 Visa holder’s status remains valid

Reminder: An E-2 dependent visa is an add-on and must be applied for along with the associated E-2 investment visa.

E-2 Dependent Visa Processing Times

If an E-2 spouse or dependent child is applying at the same time as the E-2 Visa holder, the E-Visa Unit will first have to review the US business intended for investment. This process can take around 45 days. The principal applicant will also need to provide extensive documentation to prove the requirements for E-2 classification. In some cases, the review of the business in which the substantial investment has been made may be delayed if further documentation is requested.

However, provided the treaty investor business has been approved by the E-Visa Unit, an interview can be arranged. Interview dates will all depend on the embassy or consulate dealing with the dependent’s application. Processing times can vary greatly between different countries, although it may be possible to expedite the interview appointment in urgent and unforeseen circumstances. However, this can only be done once an online application has been submitted and the relevant fee paid. Once an E-2 dependent has been interviewed, the remaining processing time will usually be relatively short.

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