E-1 & E-2 Visa

Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor Visas: Qualifications and Overview

Nationals of countries that have entered into treaties designed to promote trade and investment between the U.S. and the other country can obtain visas to work in the U.S. These visas are called E-visas, of which there are two types: the E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor.

E-1 Visa – Treaty Trader

An E-1 Visa is known as a “Treaty Trader” visa. The general qualifications necessary to obtain an E-1 visa include:

  • Be a national of a country that has a trade treaty with the U.S.
  • Carry on “substantial trade,” which can include goods, services, banking, transportation, technology, etc.
  • Maintain a “continuous flow of sizable trade items,” but no minimum monetary value is required (focus is more on the number of transactions)
  • Carry on “principal trade” between the U.S. and home country (e.g., if you are a Mexican national, over 50% of your international trade is between the U.S. and Mexico)

The initial E-1 Visa may be granted for up to two years, and the visa holder may apply for unlimited extensions in two-year increments. Spouse and unmarried children under 21 are eligible for E-1 dependent status, and the spouse may also obtain U.S. employment authorization (work permit).

E-2 Visa – Treaty Investor

An E-2 Visa is known as a “Treaty Investor” visa. Below are the general qualifications necessary to be a “treaty investor”:

  • Be a national of a country that has a trade treaty with the U.S. and have at least a 50% ownership interest in the company
  • Must have previously invested, or be actively in the process of investing
  • Investment must be achieved by either starting a new business or by purchasing an existing business or franchise
  • Must have invested a “substantial amount of capital” in a U.S. enterprise
  • No minimum amount of investment needed, but the consulates have suggested that investments under $100,000 will be analyzed more strictly.  As a result, we recommend an investment of at least $100,000 in most cases.
  • Seek to enter the U.S. “solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise”
  • Demonstrate that E2 applicant will serve in the U.S. as a hands-on manager or corporate officer of the investment enterprise

E-2 Visa – Treaty Investor: Employees

E-2 has provisions for employees similar to E-1.

General qualifications to be an Employee of Treaty Trader:

  • Same nationality as principal alien employer
  • Employed as executive or “supervisory character,” or have “special qualifications” within the principal applicant’s company/enterprise
  • Executive/supervisor must have operational control or responsibility
  • “Special qualifications” depend on the circumstances, including:

A)   Degree of expertise in employee’s particular field
B)   Whether others possess employee’s skills
C)   Potential salary that these special qualifications can command
D)   Knowledge of foreign language and culture not sufficient by itself; employee must demonstrate unique skills related to the field

The initial E-2 Visa may be granted for up to two years, and the visa holder may apply for unlimited extensions in two-year increments. Spouse and unmarried children under 21 are eligible for E-2 dependent status, and the spouse may also obtain U.S. employment authorization (work permit).