*Steve Maggi co-authored this article with Lorna McManus.

{4:54 minutes to read} The E-2 visa is known as the Treaty Investor visa. We’ve talked about this visa in past blogs, but to refresh, essentially anyone who comes from one of the 80 countries that have a treaty with the U.S., can set up any legal model of a business in the U.S., invest in that business, and then through their investment get a visa for themselves and for their dependent family members.

There are many aspects of real estate that are attractive to a foreign national. An E-2 investor can set up their own company and depending on the scale of the business they want to create, they can go into:

— Purchase/Sale;

— Construction;

— Property Management;

— Design;

For E-2 purposes they must hire U.S. nationals or legal permanent residents. The investor should set up a business where they have administrative staff, especially if they need to do sales or acquisitions. If they are interested in construction or property management, it will be beneficial to employ individuals that have local market knowledge, because that is where the local job creation is going to come in.

Just like any E-2 visa, if the principal investor is the only one that is benefiting, it doesn’t pass what is called the marginality test, which requires that the U.S. economy and U.S. citizens benefit from the business. Both part-time and full-time jobs are acceptable but a model based strictly on project-based jobs and subcontracted labor will not suffice. The E-2 investor must set up a business that incorporates creation of some permanent positions.

Once the business has been established and the requirement  for permanent employment is met, the company can hire consultants to review investments, strategy and provide local market knowledge.

Rental properties, whether residential or commercial, can be a particularly conservative investment option and require a variety of jobs to run properly. Covered areas can include (but are not limited to):

— Acquisition

— Deal Structure

— Financing

— Construction Management

–Property Management & Maintenance


If the foreign investor has a construction background flipping might be an option. ‘Flipping’ is the business of purchasing, renovating and reselling properties. With this model the investor would need employees for many of the same tasks as the rental owner – Acquisitions, Financing, Construction Manager, (etc), as well as a construction crew.

So the E-2 is one way to marry a real-estate  investment with a business in order to get a visa. The E-2 cannot be utilized only for residential use or as a pure investment where there is no job creation. There must be a benefit given to the U.S.economy in the forms of job and revenue creation. The bottom line is that although there is no limitation on what services the company provides within the real estate industry, it must always result in the creation of jobs.

Most importantly, those interested in starting a real estate business and getting a visa to run it must consult and work with experienced immigration attorneys and companies who specialize in this niche industry, both as consultants as well as potential business partners.

For more information please contact Steve Maggi at smaggi@smalawyers.com and Lorna McManus at lornamcmanus@greenpeninvestments.com.