Japan and the E-2 Visa: What You Need to Know

May 30, 2020

The E-2 Visa for entrepreneurs is one of the most flexible and popular visa types for those who wish to move to the United States. In 2016, the U.S. issued over 44,000 of these visas and nearly 30% were issued to Japanese citizens.

The E-2 Visa is popular because it allows an entrepreneur to operate their business in the US. The visa is also renewable indefinitely as long as the business is running.

While attractive, the E-2 Visa has many rules and regulations. The individual must make a substantial investment into a company, and be involved in the day-to-day operations. If you want to start a business in the Land of Opportunity, there is a detailed process that you will have to go through.

It is important to know that this visa cannot be extended to citizens of every country. Only nationals of treaty countries may obtain this visa. The list of treaty countries includes Australia, Egypt, and most notably, Japan.


Necessary Steps to Get the Visa

As you are applying you will have to provide substantial evidence. This is a visa for entrepreneurs. That means that you will have to prove that you have a plan for your future business and that the plan is viable. Part of this entails having proper business registration in the United States. Outside of the business plan, you must demonstrate that you have a source of income and that you can transfer money.

A vast majority of applicants will have to be interviewed before they can enter the U.S. on an E-2 visa. The United States maintains consulates in several cities in Japan, however, all E-2 applications and interviews are processed in either Tokyo or Osaka. Japanese entrepreneurs should apply to the Embassy or Consulate closest to the place of their permanent residence.

There are several forms which need to be completed. These forms differ depending on whether the case is filed with the U.S. Consulate in Japan or domestically with the USCIS. An experienced immigration attorney can help you determine where to file.

What You Need to Know

The E-2 Visa is one of the few visas that can be reviewed indefinitely. An investor can renew their E-2 visa repeatedly as long as the business is operating. In other words, there is no limit to the maximum time an investor can stay in the US on E-2 status. The duration of each term of the visa will be determined by the USCIS or border officer when you enter the country.

In order to avoid delays in gathering documentation, we recommend that the investor gather the following important documents: Bank statements, business formation documents, recent tax returns, a list of expenses related to the business and CV. This list is not exhaustive and your immigration attorney should provide you with a detailed checklist to help move the process forward quickly.

The government processing times depend on whether your application is filed within the US or with the US Consulate in Japan. The USCIS currently takes 2-4 months to process E-2 cases while the US Consulate in Japan takes roughly 3-4 weeks. The most effective way to prevent delays is to have all of the forms filled out correctly. An error with your documentation can cause a lengthy back and forth process with the government.

Path Law Group has the expertise and resources necessary to help Japanese investors secure their visas. Feel free to read our case study about how we helped a British national obtain an E-2 Visa. Additionally, check out another example of how we assisted an Australian couple live and work in America. You can also check out our complete guide for the E-2 Visa. If you have any questions, contact us today.