E Visa – Treaty Traders or Investors

An E visa is a type of non-immigrant visa category offered by the United States to individuals from countries that have treaties of commerce and navigation or bilateral investment treaties with the U.S. These visas are designed to facilitate and promote trade, investment, and other economic activities between the U.S. and these treaty countries. 

E visas are divided into two main categories: E-1 and E-2.

  1. E-1 Visa (Treaty Trader Visa):

To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation or with which the United States maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation;
  • Carry on substantial trade; and
  • Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.

Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to:

  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and its transfer
  • Some news-gathering activities.

Substantial trade generally refers to an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the United States and the treaty country. The continuous flow contemplates numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction. While monetary value of transactions is a relevant factor in considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value. For smaller businesses, the income derived from the value of numerous transactions which is sufficient to support the treaty trader and their family is a favorable factor. 

Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the volume of international trade of the treaty trader is between the United States and the treaty country of the treaty trader’s nationality. 

  1. E-2 Visa (Treaty Investor Visa):

This visa is designed for individuals who have invested a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business or enterprise. The investment must be at risk and substantial, and the investor must have a controlling interest in the business. The investment must also be in an active, operating enterprise that generates more than just marginal income. Like the E-1 visa, the applicant must be a national of a treaty country and be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the investment.

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

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

Investment is the treaty investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails. The treaty investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity.  

A substantial amount of capital is:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one.
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

A bona fide enterprise refers to a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit. It must meet applicable legal requirements for doing business within its jurisdiction.

Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees and E-2 Treaty Investors and Employees:

E-1 and E-2 temporary workers 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. Spouses and children may seek E-1 non-immigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. Spouses of E-1 workers in valid E-1 or E-1S status are considered employment authorized incident to status, except for spouses of employees of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) and Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (TECO), who continue to be required to apply for employment authorization per 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(2).

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay:

Initial Period of Stay: A maximum initial stay of two years. Extension of Stay: Requests for extension of stay in, or changes of status to, E classification may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no limit to the number of extensions an E-1 non-immigrant may be granted. All E non-immigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated. An E non-immigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted, if determined admissible by a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officer, an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.

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