The US Consulate recently granted an E-2 treaty investor visa for my client who purchased a tailor shop in the US, although he did not have what he thought was substantial funds to invest. In order to obtain an E-2 visa as a primary investor the alien must show that he or she has made a substantial investment in a US enterprise (or will do so upon issuance of the visa). US immigration laws do not specifically define what is substantial, but rather provide a narrative in terms of proportionality. The greater the funds needed to operate the establishment the smaller the percentage of such funds the alien must invest. For example, if an alien were to open a new Toyota plant in the US worth millions of dollars, then she would not be expected to invest 90% of the value of this enterprise but far less. However, if she were to purchase a small cobbler shop then she would be expected to invest far more and maybe 90%.
Therefore, it is important to emphasize that it is not the quantity that the alien is investing that is key but the percentage of the total value of the enterprise.