Investor and Treaty Trader Visas for single investors and multinational companiesWho is Eligible?
The E-1 Visa
The E-2 Visa
How to Apply
Duration of Visa
Status of Spouse and Minor Children
The E visa can be used by companies owned by a single investor as well as by large multinational companies. It is also available to key foreign personnel of companies that are Treaty Foreign National (TFN) owned within the requirements listed below. TFNs are from the following countries:Countries with Treaties for E-1 Visas
Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Serbia Montenegra, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia, Wallis & Futura Islands, Western Sahara.Countries with Treaties for E-2 Visas
Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Rep. of the), Congo (Rep.), (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldavia, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Fed., Senegal, Serbia Montenegra, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia, Wallis & Futura Islands, Western Sahara
To qualify for an
E-1 trader visa, a foreign business person must be seeking entry into
the United States to carry on "substantial trade in goods or services
in a capacity that is supervisory or executive or involves essential
skills." E-1 visas were previously restricted to a trade of goods
and specific services, including banking, finance, and the airline industry.
This limited definition of services has been greatly expanded under
NAFTA so that trade can be in goods or services without specification
- The term "trade" means the exchange, purchase, or sale of goods and/or services. Goods are tangible commodities or merchandise having intrinsic value. Services are economic activities whose outputs are other than tangible goods. Such service activities include but are not limited to banking, insurance, transportation, communications and date processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, tourism, and technology transfer.
As a Treaty Foreign National (TFN), you may be issued a treaty trader (E-1) nonimmigrant visa if all of the following requirements are met:
- (a) You or your firm is a TFN (at least 50% of the company stock is owned by TFNs)
- (b) You enter the United States to carry on substantial trade (more than 50%) between your U.S. business and a TFN country; it does not matter if your TFN company is engaged primarily in trade with countries other than the United States
- (c) The trade is already in existence at the time you apply for E-1 status
- (d) You engage in executive or managerial duties or possess special skills that make your services essential to the employer's operations
- (e) You confirm you will leave the United States upon termination of this status.
To qualify for an
E-2 investor visa, the applicant must "develop and direct operations
of an enterprise in which he or she has invested or is actively in the
process of investing a substantial amount of capital." As a foreign
citizen, you may be issued an E-2 nonimmigrant visa if all of the following
requirements are met:
(a) You or the firm are TFNs (at least 50% of the company stock is owned by TFNs)
(b) You or the firm for which you work will invest or have invested substantial capital (generally in excess of $100,000) which is at risk, meaning subject to potential loss if the business does not succeed, in a bona fide enterprise in the United States. The term "substantial" means:
(i) The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment (usually more than half of the value of the business), or
(ii) An amount normally considered necessary to establish a new business.
(c) You engage in executive or managerial duties or possess special skills that make your services essential to the employer's operations.
(i) An executive position provides the employee great authority to determine the policy of and direction for the business or a major component of the business. The executive functions must be the primary functions of the employee, and not just incidental or collateral to other duties.
(ii) A supervisory position grants the employee ultimate control and responsibility for a large proportion of the enterprise's operations or a major component of the enterprise. It does not involve the supervision of low-level employees. The supervisory element of the employee's position must be a principal and primary function, and not an incidental or collateral function.
(iii) The essential nature of an alien's "special skills" is determined by assessing the degree of proven expertise of the alien in the area of specialization, the uniqueness of the specific skills, the length of experience and training with the firm, the period of training needed to perform the contemplated duties, and the salary the special expertise commands. The consular officer must be convinced that the nature of the prospective employment is such that the alien's eventual replacement by a U.S. worker is not feasible or that the employer is making reasonable and good-faith efforts to recruit and/or train U.S. workers to perform the job.
(d) The investment is not marginal (not your sole means of support and/or the goal of the investment is to create jobs for U.S. citizens or permanent residents)
(e) The investment enterprise actually exists or you are actively in the process of investing
(f) You confirm you will leave the United States upon termination of this status.
Trader and investor visas must be applied for at a U.S. consulate with a visa application.
An interview is conducted by a U.S. consul who is well versed in the rules and regulations pertaining to E visas. For the correct forms and the time for adjudication of your E visa application, check with the U.S. consulate where you intend to apply.
Except for Mexico,
E-1 visas are generally issued for a five-year period (Mexico is only
six months). E-1 Visa status is granted in increments of one year when
entering from outside the U.S. If renewal is granted inside the U.S.
then two years may be granted. The visa may be maintained as long as
the beneficiary remains affiliated with the business in the same manner
as when the petition was granted. The visa holder may renew their visas
by showing the ongoing relationship.
An E-1 visa may be extended through leaving and reentering the U.S., or submission of an extension petition to the INS if inside the U.S. Petitioner must submit sufficient evidence to satisfy INS that the company remains viable, and that Petitioner has maintained his status accordingly. E-1 Visa status is granted in increments of one year when entering from outside the U.S. If renewal is granted inside the U.S. the two years may be granted.
A spouse and unmarried minor children are eligible for E visas and can also enter under this category.
President Bush, on January 16,, 2002, signed
into law two bills (H.R. 2277 and H.R. 2278) allowing spouses of intra-company
transferees, treaty traders, and treaty investors to work in the U.S.
H.R. 2277 (PL 107-124) provides work authorization to the spouses of E visa holders. H.R. 2278 (PL 107-125) provides work authorization to the spouses of L visa holders and reduces the required period of prior continuous employment for certain intra-company transferees. Specifically, H.R. 2278 amends INA section 214(c)(2)(A) to provide that in the case of an alien seeking admission under section 101(a)(15)(L), the required one-year period of continuous employment is reduced to six months if the importing employer has filed a blanket petition and met the requirements for expedited processing of aliens covered under such petition.
Servants of the E visa holder can be issued B-1 visas with work authorization.