The E-1 (trader) and E-2 (investor) visas are for business owners or key employees who hold the nationality of certain countries with which the United States has treaties for commerce. To qualify, the company must be owned or co-owned by citizens of a country with a valid treaty. The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of current valid treaty countries for E-1 and E-2 purposes. Treaty visas are considered nonimmigrant visas; individuals in E-1 or E-2 status are considered “temporary” visitors, coming to the United States for a finite period of time with an intent to someday return to their country of nationality.
The investor or trader (whether a real person or a corporate person) must be a national of a country with which the United States has a treaty of commerce. The nationality of a business is determined by the nationality of the individual owners of that business. Nationals of the treaty country must own at least 50% of the business in question.
Spouses of E visa holders may apply for work authorization from USCIS to work while accompanying their spouse in the United States.
Most E-1 and E-2 visa applications are filed directly with the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
Key E-1 Visa Considerations
The E-1 visa is available for a foreign national who is coming to the United States to engage solely in international trade. Certain employees of a qualified E-1 company may also be eligible for E-1 status.
- The trade must be substantial and must be principally between the treaty country and the U.S.
- Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade which may include but are not limited to: goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, technology and its transfer, certain news-gathering activities.
Key E-2 Visa Considerations
The E-2 visa is available for a foreign national who is coming to the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise or investment in the United States or for certain key employees of qualified E-2 enterprises.
- The investment must be substantial, sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
- The investment must fund a real operating enterprise; a speculative or idle investment, or funds or securities uncommitted to a particular investment, do not qualify.
- The investment must not be marginal; it must generate significantly more income than that needed to provide a living for the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States. Generally, creation of jobs for U.S. workers is a critical element of a successful E-2 case.
- The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk (in the commercial sense).
To speak with an immigration attorney about E-1 and E-2 visas for treaty country "traders and investors" and key employees contact Grossman Young & Hammond.