Treaty Trader / Investor Visa

Overview

E-1 (Treaty Trader) and E-2 (Treaty Investor) visas are authorized based on the existence of a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the country of ownership of the sponsoring applicant entity. The sponsoring U.S. entity must be at least 50% foreign owned. Those eligible may include:

  • Principal Investors, or individuals looking to invest and start U.S. business entities qualify for such visas, as long as they are nationals of countries that have a treaty with the U.S. Such Principal Investors must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise; or
  • Eligible Companies, who are interested in sponsoring foreign nationals in an executive, managerial or highly specialized position. Such foreign nationals must be employees of the same nationality as that of the sponsoring company.

To see the current list of E-Visa Eligible Countries List, click here.

E-1

If you are a businessperson from a qualifying treaty country (see below a list of qualifying countries for E-1 visas) and plan to either undertake a significant amount of international trade with the U.S. or you plan to work for a company that does, you may qualify for the E-1 Treaty Trader visa.

Requirements of E-1 Visa

Applicants must meet specific requirements in order to qualify for an E-1 Treaty Trader visa.

  1. The applicant must be a national of a treaty country.
  2. The volume of such trade must be sufficient to justify the trader or his/her employee(s) being in the U.S. to manage the trade,
  3. The trading firm where the applicant will be working must be at least 50% owned by citizens of the treaty country noting, that the trading firm may be owned by the visa applicant or other individuals.
  4. There will be a substantial dollar value to the trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. While there is no set minimum level of trade which is considered sufficient, obviously the lower the volume of trade the less likely one is to qualify as a Treaty Trader.
  5. The majority of international trade transactions undertaken by the applicant (have been and) will be between the U.S. and the treaty country. These trade transactions do not include transactions within the Treaty country or within the U.S.
  6. The applicant may be the Treaty Trader themselves or be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled workers are not eligible for this visa.

E-1 employees are generally employed in supervisory positions such as executives & managers or be specialist or essential skilled workers.

Who qualifies as an Executive or Manager?

Executives and Managers are employees that ultimate control and are responsible for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it. Such employees should be able to demonstrate their executive or managerial history, though there is no requirement that they have worked for the principal trader or investor for at least one year, as there is with the L1 visa. Generally, a resume and supporting letter from the principal is all the evidence required.

Who qualifies as a Specialist or Essential Skilled Worker?

Visas for Specialist or Essential Skilled Workers are somewhat more difficult to obtain and the applicant must be able to demonstrate that:

  1. That the employee is of the same nationality as the principal investor or trader;
  2. That a U.S. resident worker could not fill the position;
  3. The employment of the treaty national is necessary for the running of the principal trader or investor's business in the U.S.; and
  4. S. workers will be trained to replace the treaty national with all details of the proposed training being provided.

If the above criteria can be met then the E-1 visa may be obtained however, it is considerably harder to renew than the Executive/Manager visa.

Period of Stay

Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted.  All E-1 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

Family of E-1 Visa

Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee. These family members may seek E-1 non-immigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.

During the period of stay in the U.S., the applicant’s spouse can apply to work in the U.S. without restrictions as to the place of employment, however, the children may not accept any kind of employment but may engage in study.

E-1 Visa Countries

The following countries have treaties with the United States that allow qualifying nationals to apply for Treaty Trader status:

Argentina China (Taiwan) Germany Korea (South) Norway Spain
Australia Colombia Greece Kosovo Oman Suriname
Austria Costa Rica Honduras Latvia Pakistan Sweden
Belgium Croatia Iran Liberia Paraguay Switzerland
Bolivia Denmark Ireland Luxembourg Philippines Thailand
Bosnia and Herzegovina Estonia Israel Macedonia (FRY) Poland Togo
Brunei Ethiopia Italy Mexico Serbia Turkey
Canada Finland Japan Montenegro Singapore United Kingdom
Chile France Jordan Netherlands Slovenia Yugoslavia

 

E-2

If you are an investor from a qualifying treaty country (see below a list of qualifying countries for E-2 visas) then an E-2 visa may allow you to live in the United States for the purposes of owning and running a qualifying business.

Like the E-1 visa, there is no set minimum level of investment which may qualify for E-2 status, but the lower the investment the less likely one is to qualify, $40,000 is probably the absolute minimum, and any investment below $100,000 would need a strong case to support it. Again, the level of investment must be sufficient enough to justify the treaty national (or his/her employees) presence in the United States. The investment must be in an operating business – i.e. simply buying property or stocks and bonds does not qualify. Also, a substantial part of the investment must have been made before applying for E-2 status.

Generally, if the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possess skills that are highly specialized and essential to the operations of the commercial enterprise. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify for an E-2 visa.

General E-2 Investor Visa Requirements:

  1. A person or persons with citizenship of a country having a qualifying investment treaty with the U.S. must own at least 50% of the shares of the U.S. Company; such person or persons may not have permanent resident status or reside in the U.S. under a visa other than the E-2 visa.
  2. The investment must be substantial and must be made with personal funds (or with a loan secured by property that belongs to the investor personally). While the regulations do not state a specific minimum investment, the investment must be sufficient to establish a profitable business with development and expansion potential.
  3. The company must contribute to the local economy to an extent that is more than marginal, i.e., the investor cannot invest solely for the purpose of earning a living. Beyond paying the investor a living salary, the business must employ U.S. workers and produce a profit.
  4. Applicants must show that they have work experience and credentials that qualify them to perform the job that the company is offering them, and the investor must intend to enter the U.S. solely in order to manage and direct the business.

General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Investor

To qualify for E-2 classification, the employee of a treaty investor must:

  1. Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country);
  2. Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law; and
  3. Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

If the principal alien employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country. These owners must be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty investor status.  If the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty investor

Executives and Managers is defined as going to develop and direct the trade or investment of the principal investor/trader in the U.S. Such employees should be able to demonstrate their executive or managerial history, though there is no requirement that they have worked for the principal trader or investor for at least one year, as there is with the L-1 visa. Generally, a resume and supporting letter from the principal is all the evidence required.

Visas for Specialist or Essential Skilled Workers are somewhat more difficult to obtain and the applicant must be able to demonstrate that:

  1. That the employee is of the same nationality as the principal investor or trader;
  2. That a U.S. resident worker could not fill the position;
  3. The employment of the treaty national is necessary for the running of the principal trader or investor's business in the U.S.; and
  4. S. workers will be trained to replace the treaty national with all details of the proposed training being provided.

Period of Stay

E-2 visas can initially be granted to treaty investors and employees for an initial period of two years. Requests for extensions may be granted in increments of up to two years each however, there is no limit to the number of extensions an E-2 non-immigrant may be granted as long as there is a need to manage and direct the underlying business.

Family of E-2 Visa holders

Treaty investors and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty investor or employee. These family members may seek E-2 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.

The spouse of an E-2 visa holder can obtain status enabling them to work in the U.S. The minor children of an E-2 visa holder can obtain lawful status to reside in the U.S. and are able to engage in study.


 

E-2 Visa Countries

E-2 visas may only be applied for by people or companies from the following countries:

Albania Chile France Kyrgyzstan Pakistan Sweden
Argentina China (Taiwan) Georgia Latvia Panama Switzerland
Armenia Colombia Germany Liberia Paraguay Thailand
Australia Congo (Brazzaville) Grenada Lithuania Philippines Togo
Austria Congo (Kinshasa) Honduras Luxembourg Poland Trinidad & Tobago
Azerbaijan Costa Rica Iran Macedonia (FRY) Romania Tunisia
Bahrain Croatia Ireland Mexico Serbia Turkey
Bangladesh Czech Republic Italy Moldova Senegal Ukraine
Belgium Denmark Jamaica Mongolia Singapore United Kingdom
Bolivia Ecuador Japan Montenegro Slovak Republic Yugoslavia
Bosnia and Herzegovina Egypt Jordan Morocco Slovenia
Bulgaria Estonia Kazakhstan Netherlands Spain
Cameroon Ethiopia Korea (South) Norway Sri Lanka
Canada Finland Kosovo Oman Suriname  

 

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