Foreign Investment and Trade in the United States
The E visas promote trade and investment between countries. The E1 visa is reserved for treaty traders and E2 visas is for treaty investors. To qualify for either E1 or E2, the applicant must be from a U.S. Department of State treaty country. Many countries on the list are classified as both E1 and E2, and thereby nationals may be eligible for either visa type. However, some countries have only a treaty trader or treaty investor agreement with the United States.
Qualifying for an E1 Treaty Trader Visa
Under the Treaty Trader visa, a foreign national can engage in trade with the United States on his or her own behalf. To qualify for an E1 Treaty Trader visa, the foreign national must:
- Be the national of a U.S. State Department treaty trader country;
- Carry on substantial trade, defined as, “continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time”; and
- Carry on principal trade, meaning more than 50 percent of total volume of international trade, between the trader’s treaty country and the United States.
Qualifying for an E2 Treaty Investor Visa
The Treaty Investor Visa allows a foreign national to come to the United States to invest substantial capital. To qualify for the E2 visa, the Treaty Investor must:
- Be the national of a treaty investor country, as classified by the U.S. State Department;
- Invest substantial capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States; and
- Be actively involved in developing or directing the investment enterprise through at least 50 percent ownership or managerial control.
Unlike the EB-5 green card requirements, the E2 nonimmigrant visa sets no minimum amount of investment or job creation criteria, making it an attractive alternative to the stricter permanent visa application.
E Treaty Visa Application Process
A treaty trader or investor that is already in the United States may file a form I-129 to change status. If outside the country, the trader or investor would instead file an application with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy. The visa allows for an initial stay of up to two years, with extensions of up to two years. The number of extensions for both the E1 and E2 visas is unlimited.
Talk to a qualified immigration attorney in our network to explore the E1 and E2 visa option. Schedule an appointment with Ask Ellis today.
*The content and materials available via Ask Ellis are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.