The E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visas are available to nationals of certain countries that have trader and/or investor treaties with the United States.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa
To qualify for an E-1 visa, the applicant must be coming to the US to work for a business, at least 50% of which is owned by citizens of the applicant’s treaty country. The company may be owned by the applicant or by others. E-1 visas may only be issued to the principal owners or key employees of the qualifying business. More than 50% of the total volume of the company’s international trade must be between the U.S. and the treaty national’s country. “Trade” refers not only to tangible goods but also to technology, services, banking, law, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, tourism, insurance, and international transportation. The amount of trade must be substantial, and is judged by dollar amount, volume and frequency.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
To qualify for an E-2 visa, the applicant must be a national of a country that has an investor treaty with the U.S. and must be coming to the U.S. to work for a U.S. business supported by a substantial cash investment from nationals of the applicant’s home country. The investment must be spent on the business itself and should be large enough to establish and operate an enterprise of the type in which the company is investing. The business can be owned by the applicant or the applicant can be an essential employee of a business which is at least 50% owned by nationals of the applicant’s country. This includes key employees, executives, and essential personnel. The money must be actually invested in the enterprise and at risk. The U.S. business must be actively engaged in trade or the rendering of services. Passive investments, such as stocks, are not considered commercial enterprises.
The investment must be “substantial.” A proportionality test is generally used to determine whether the investment is substantial: the amount of funds invested is weighed against the total cost of purchasing or creating the enterprise, and against the amount normally considered sufficient for successful operation of that type of enterprise. The purchase of equipment, inventory, and services such as building and marketing, will count towards the investment for visa purposes. The source and ownership of investment funds must be shown.
- Prospective investors may enter as visitors in order to purchase and set up a business.
- E visas are issued initially for two years and can be extended almost without limit.
- The spouse of an E-1/E-2 visa holder may obtain work authorization.