What are the requirements for the E-1 or E-2 treaty trader and investor visas?

The E-1 or E-2 non-immigrant status is for a national of any of the countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

Nationals (individuals or companies) of treaty countries coming to the United States to carry on substantial trade in goods, services or technology principally between the United States and the treaty country may apply for E-1 Visa. Those coming to the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital, may apply for E-2 Visas.

To obtain an E-1 visa, nationals of qualifying countries may demonstrate that:

  • The international trade must be "substantial" in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.
  • At least 50% of the trade must be between the U.S. and the treaty country,
  • Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other.
  • The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm.

To obtain an E-2 visa, nationals of qualifying countries may demonstrate that:

  • The capital investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • The investment must be committed; it must be a real operating enterprise. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
  • The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
  • The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.

The E-1 / E-2 category is an attractive option because treaty nationals are not required to maintain a business outside the US. Holders of E visas can have their visas renewed every five years without limits and reside in the United States as long as they continue to maintain their status with the enterprise.

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age receive derivative E visas to accompany the principal alien. The spouse of an E visa holder may apply for employment authorization with the U.S. citizenship and Immigration Service. Dependent children of an E visa holder are not authorized to work in the United States.

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