This visa category can be used for foreign nationals for the purposes of conducting trade between the United States and the country of majority ownership of the company (E-1), or overseeing an investment in the United States (E-2). This nonimmigrant classification is only available if a “treaty of commerce and navigation” or a “bilateral investment treaty” exists between the United States and the foreign country.
Duration of Stay
The initial period of stay granted under this category is two years, with indefinite renewals available as long as the foreign national affirms that he or she will leave the United States at the expiry of the authorized period of stay. Note that E visa beneficiaries do not have to maintain a foreign residence in order to qualify.
In order to be eligible for the E classification, the person must fulfill the following criteria:
- A treaty of commerce and navigation, or a bilateral investment treaty, must exist between the United States and the foreign country;
- The nationality of the investing or trading company must be of the foreign country, meaning that majority ownership or control of the company must be held by nationals of the foreign country;
- The person or company that seeks E status must be a citizen of the foreign country that has a treaty with the United States.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) website provides a list of all countries with whom the United States currently has a treaty in force.
Special Requirements for E-1 Treaty Traders:
- The trading company must be engaged in a continuous course of “trade,” which can involve the exchange, purchase or sale of goods or services;
- Although there is no minimum dollar amount, the volume of trade conducted must be “substantial,” which is measured by the volume of trade, the number of transactions and the continued course of trade.
- The trade must be conducted “principally” between the United States and the treaty country. In this respect, “principally” has been defined to mean that greater than fifty percent (50%) of the total volume of international trade of the U.S. office must consist of trade between the U.S. and the treaty country;
- The employee must serve the company in a position involving supervisory or executive duties, or in a position involving skills essential to the operation of the company.
Special Requirements for E-2 Treaty Investors:
- The investor must make an active, irrevocable investment of funds. In other words, the investment must be made in an real operating business enterprise that provides some service pr product;
- The investment must be substantial. Although there is no set minimum dollar amount, there are a number of legal tests that are utilized in determining whether the investment is “substantial;”
- The investment cannot be marginal, that is, one that merely supports the investor and his family. Rather, the investment should ideally create job opportunities for U.S. workers;
- The investor must take on a key role in the investment, that is, he or she must take on the responsibility of directing and developing the course of the investment.
Family Members and Spouses
Family members, including the spouse and unmarried children under 21, can accompany the E visa holder to the United States. Moreover, spouses of E visa status holders are eligible for work authorization.
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160;
- Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application, Form DS-156E;
- Valid passport with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States;
- One passport size photograph;
- Supporting letter from the treaty enterprise or individual investor/trader;
- Supporting documentation satisfying every elements of the E treaty qualification;
- Application fees, along with any other required documentation.