Visas for Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors, E-1 and E-2 Visas, in the U.S.: Who Qualifies?

Overview of E1 Visa and E2 Visa Requirements

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Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of treaty countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. List of E2 Countries: Treaty Countries . You must be coming to the United States to: engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country; or develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital.

To qualify for a Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa

The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have the citizenship of a treaty country. If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality. The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States. You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed. You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

See “Who Qualifies For a E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?”

See “What are the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Requirement in the U.S.?

To qualify for a Treaty Trader (E-1) Visa

You must be a citizen of a treaty country. The trading firm for which you plan to come to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise. The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade. More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country. Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other. You must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.

Trade for Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor purposes – Examples:

These are some examples of types of enterprises that constitute trade under E visa provisions.

international banking

insurance

transportation

tourism

communications

 

How to Apply

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 There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply.

Complete the Online Visa Application, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 & print the confirmation page.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age. You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. embassy or consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early.

Prepare for Your Interview

Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable to your nationality. Please review the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance fee.

Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

Passport valid for travel to the U.S. – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U.S. (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.

Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview

Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Fill out and bring the Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application, Form DS-156E

Additional Documentation May Be Required

It is impossible to specify the exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly by applicant. For detailed requirements for this category, review 9 Foreign Affairs Manual 41.51 Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor.

Attend Your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application. When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by courier.

Additional Information

You will need to demonstrate your intention to depart the United States at the end of your stay on an E visa.

It cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.

Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the U.S.

Spouse and Children

Your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 may apply for E visas to accompany or join you to reside temporarily.

Misrepresentation or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.

How Do I Extend My Stay?

Visitors who wish to stay beyond the date indicated on their Form I-94 are required to have approval by USCIS.

How Do I Change My Status?

Some nonimmigrant visa holders, while present in the U.S., are able to file a request which must be approved by USCIS to change to another nonimmigrant category.

The Florida immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Rose H. Robbins represent clients primarily in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.  Please call us at: (954) 946-8130 to schedule your free telephone consultation.  This is a FREE consultation and you will not be charged for this call.

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