Hi, my name is Ben Frear, and I’m an immigration lawyer focused on helping entrepreneurs. Today, I want to address a common question: Is it possible to obtain an E2 visa for under 100000?

This question comes up frequently in my practice. Prospective clients often explain their business concept and express concern because their business will cost less than $100,000 to start. They’ve heard from other lawyers or entrepreneurs that you need to spend at least $100,000 to have a chance at an E2 visa. So, is this true? Let’s dive in and find out.

Understanding the $100,000 Figure

When you look at the Foreign Affairs Manual, which provides guidance to U.S. consular officers, you won’t see a specified minimum investment. In fact, the manual contains language suggesting that business models requiring lower investments should be given a fair chance. This is encouraging, especially for those starting consulting companies or other low-cost service businesses.

The key to understanding whether an investment meets the requirement of substantiality is the proportionality test. This test determines if an investment is substantial by weighing the amount of qualifying funds invested against the cost of the business. Simply put, the lower the cost of the business, the higher the percentage of investment required.

Proportionality Test Explained

The manual explains that the value (cost) of the business depends on its nature. For example, a manufacturing business might cost millions of dollars to establish, while a service business like a consulting firm might be relatively low-cost. As long as all other requirements for the E2 visa are met, the cost of the business alone shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

This suggests that low-cost businesses like IT consulting companies, law firms, and marketing agencies can indeed qualify for the E2 visa.

Why the $100,000 Myth Persists

So why do so many people believe you always need to invest $100,000? There are two main reasons for this misconception:

Example in the Foreign Affairs Manual:

The manual provides an example using the $100,000 figure. It states that investments constituting 100 percent of the total cost would normally qualify for a business requiring a startup cost of $100,000. This example is provided to illustrate how the proportionality rule works. 

This section of the foreign affairs manual is helpful when the investment is over 100,000 and the investment meets or exceeds 100% of the cost of the business.

However, by offering this example, the manual is not saying that businesses with lower investment costs can’t qualify. But, in practice, they are generally more likely to receive additional scrutiny.

Consular Post Practices:

There are rumors that some consular posts simply won’t approve E2 visa applications with investments below $100,000 or even $150,000. The rationale for such refusals is the assumption that businesses with low startup costs are unlikely to create jobs. Although this reasoning is flawed—since service businesses can start with minimal investment and still create jobs—these posts may deny lower investment cases by finding the business marginal, meaning it’s unlikely to create jobs for U.S. workers.

The Ultimate Question: The E2 Visa for Under 100000?

To answer the ultimate question: Can you get an E2 visa for under $100,000? Absolutely. However, it’s important to understand that the lower the investment, the higher the risk of refusal. Before deciding to invest, it’s wise to seek guidance from someone with recent experience in similar low investment cases (filed through the same consular post which you are applying) to gauge potential problems based on investment size alone.

Also, it is important to understand that $100,000 might not be enough in many cases. The required investment depends on the cost of the business. For example, if you invest $100,000 but the business costs $800,000, you may face difficulties because you’ve only invested one-eighth of the total cost.


I hope this information was helpful. The topic of E2 visas is complex, so please don’t take this as legal advice—it’s meant to be a general discussion to help you understand the issue. The likelihood of success depends on many factors, best discussed with one of the many qualified U.S. immigration lawyers available globally. Thanks for reading, and best of luck as you explore the E2 visa!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. For specific guidance related to your situation, please consult with a qualified immigration attorney.

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Ben Frear, Esq.

Immigration Lawyer for Entrepreneurs

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