THE TREATY TRADER (E-1) AND TREATY INVESTOR (E-2) VISAS
The Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) non-immigrant visas are for nationals of a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation. The categories were established to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the U.S. and other countries.
E-1 nationals plan to carry on substantial trade, principally between the U.S. and the treaty country
E-2 nationals plan to develop and direct the operations of a U.S. enterprise in which the national has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.
Requirements and Visa Process
Visa applicants must establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law and complies with the many requirements for the E Visa category.
To Qualify as a Treaty Trader (E-1):
- The firm in the U.S. must have the nationality of a treaty country.
- The applicant must be a national of the treaty country.
- The international trade must be “substantial”; there must be a sizeable and continuing volume of trade.
- The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that more than 50% of the firm’s international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant’s nationality.
- Trade means the international exchange of goods, money, services, or technology. Title of items must pass from one party to another.
- The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the operation of the firm.
- The term “trade” is defined to include commercial goods and trade in services and technology. This includes banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, technology transfer, and other measurable services that can be traded.
To qualify as a Treaty Investor (E-2):
- The investor (either a real or corporate person) must be a national of a treaty country.
- The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.
- The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify.
- The investment must not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than needed to provide a living to the investor and his/her family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.
- The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. For the purpose of measuring the investment, loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not counted.
- The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If applicants are not the principal investors, they must be employed as a supervisor, executive, or as the possessor of highly specialized skills.
Both owners and employees of treaty trader and treaty investor businesses receive the same kind of visa (E-1 or E-2); the law makes no distinction between them. However, the validity of the visa will differ for owners and employees.
E-1/E-2 applications require extensive documentation, which is submitted to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, generally in the foreign national’s country of residence, for review. The applicant will attend a subsequent interview for visa issuance.
These categories are temporary, nonimmigrant visas and are not intended to serve as a means for foreigners to retire or merely reside in the U.S. The visa can be renewed or extended only if the investment or trade continues to meet all applicable requirements of U.S. immigration laws and regulations.
The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of the primary E-1/E-2 applicant may also accompany or follow the primary holder in that same status. They are not required to have the same nationality as the principal applicant. Spouses and children may attend school, and spouses are eligible to apply for work authorization in the U.S.