E-2 Visas or Canadian investor visas are not easy for Canadians these days

E-2 visas can be tricky in a poor economy

We have written about E-2 Investor Visas in the past: those US Work Permits for investors starting or buying a business in the US. Such business are often launched by entrepreneurs taking on great personal risk in the hopes of creating employment for themselves and other American workers.

In times of economic hardship in the US, you would think that USCIS and the various Consulates that process E Visas, would welcome such applicants and do what they could to approve them. Not so it seems. At our office, we handle many E-2 Visa applications, many of which, represent great opportunities not just for their Canadian applicants but for prospective US employees who would be working in these businesses. Canadians generally have a very good track record of success in the US in virtually every industry. The E Visa process is a gateway to the US for Canadian entrepreneurs who can be properly regarded as a source of US employment.

However, sometimes we are shocked to discover that after carefully preparing our client’s E visa applications and waiting for the US Consulate to process them, we sometimes get letters of refusal.  Reasons such as “lack of marginality”, “passive, not-at-risk investments”, not “substantial, uncommitted”, are often cited. While not all prospective E-2 businesses will meet the regulatory criteria, it is not necessary that E applications have to be virtually guaranteed to succeed and will hit home runs right out the gate either.

But based on some of the refusals, it appears that perfect cases are what it takes.  And a what is a “perfect case” anyway?  To make matters worse, we have seen incredibly well capitalized businesses with proven success operated by experienced applicants nevertheless get refused. Frankly there is no good reason for this.

Our experience is shared by other US immigration attorneys in Canada and within the US who have to tell their frustrated clients the bad news.  Other creative strategies to get our clients to the US have to be employed often involving longer wait times and greater expense and risk. Prospective US employees waiting for work will have to wait longer.

Canadian investor visas are being approved, but not as many

But it is not all doom and gloom. E Visa applicants are still getting approved and we get lots of them!  But given the strained economy south of the border, one would think we would see the contrary trend. Sadly the gate keepers to the US seem to have another perspective. Let’s hope that the tide will turn soon.

Benefits of an E-2 Visa?

  • If you qualify for an E-2 they can be valid for up to 5 years and they are renewable. There is no cap on E-2s.
  • Your spouse can apply for a work visa after your E-2 is issued
  • Your children can go to school under the age of 21
  • E2s can be approved relatively quickly –within a month after submission

E-2 Visas are an attractive option for those wishing to establish or buy into a business in the US.

Contact us with any questions and for more information about E-2 Visas. We have a dedicated US Visa team that can help!


Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

4 thoughts on “E-2 Visas or Canadian investor visas are not easy for Canadians these days

  1. sid reddy

    I am a canadian citizen like to know the information regarding e2 visa. As I am interested in persuing business opportunities in usa. please let me know.

    sid reddy

    1. Muga Rajbhandari

      Hello Sid. I am going to suggest that you contact us to make an appointment to talk with one of our immigration professionals. There are many factors involved in obtaining a E-2 visa. You can book an appointment by calling us at 1-855-886-8472 or online at
      Regards, Muga

  2. Rodney Burley

    hi Michael, about what % of Canadians applying for the E2 get it? thanks, great article, Rod

    1. Vahe Mirzoyan

      Hello Rodney. The E-2 Investor Visa allows an individual to enter and work inside of the United States based on an investment he or she will be controlling, while inside the United States. Provided that your investment is considered to be legitimate, you should not have any problems. If you need more help developing a strategy, please contact us to make an appointment to talk with one of our immigration professionals who will be able to plan the best strategy for you. You can book an appointment by calling us at 1-855-886-8472 or online at
      Regards, Vahe


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