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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Marathas

CAN I STAY IN THE UNITED STATES IF I SELL MY E-2 BUSINESS? AND IF I DO SELL, WOULD I NEED TO CHANGE MY STATUS?

E-2 Treaty Investor applicants apply for an E-2 at the U.S Consulate of the country that matches the passport they hold, providing that country has a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation (FCN) between the United States and the investor’s country of nationality. In most cases, once the visa is approved, it is valid for several years, depending on the country from where the visa was granted. Once the E-2 Investor enters the U.S., the visas holder will be given an I-94 that stipulates the length of stay one has under this particular status while in the U.S.


If the Visa holder decides to sell the E-2 business and does not immediately apply for another visa or a change of status, then the E-2 visa status that was granted when the Visa was approved ends, and the Visa holder can only stay in the U.S. subject to the granted grace period.


That said, there are times when a visa holder’s business model changes, or the corporation or LLC is sold or shut down, or perhaps the assets or business are sold. So, if your E-2 business changes significantly, it may involve keeping the corporation and/or LLC and either changing the business significantly -- for example, from a restaurant to an automotive repair business -- or selling the business assets and purchasing a new business -- for example, selling all the restaurant’s assets, keeping the LLC, and opening a home renovation business.



You may have to apply for another E-2 visa if you significantly change the E-2 business such that it no longer resembles the business you applied for. For example, if you sell the assets of the underlying business (Eg. a car wash) and buy a new unrelated business (eg. a bar/restaurant) but keep the LLC, our opinion is that the sale of the underlying business is such a significant change that it would require contacting the Consulate and possibly a new E-2 visa application.


Some U.S. Consulates send a registration document upon approval of your E-2 Visa that indicates you must contact them if there are any significant changes to your business. The Canadian Consulate, for example, defines significant changes as a change in share ownership, or a change of headquarters to a different state.


Remember that the visa was approved for the business that was presented to the Consulate. Having a valid I-94 or just having an LLC with no activity is not enough to maintain status. USCIS may take similar positions to the U.S. Consulates.


Before selling your E-2 business or its assets, and/or prior to making a significant change in the business from what was initially approved by the Consulate, we recommend you first seek counsel from our firm to ensure your E-2 status will be maintained.

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