Overview: E Visas for Traders and Investors20 Feb 2012
The Treaty Trader / Investor Visa (nonimmigrant E classification) is designed for the benefit of nationals of a country with which the U.S. has a treaty of commerce and navigation, or a similar agreement. The E classification is divided into two categories. E-1 is for individuals coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade. E-2 is for individuals coming to the U.S. to invest a substantial amount of capital or to direct and develop the business operations of an entity in which the individual has already invested funds. A person may qualify as the principal trader or investor or as an employee of a trader or investor company having the same nationality. There are no numerical limitations on E-1/E-2 admissions.
Requirements Applying to Both E-1 and E-2
- The person has the nationality of a treaty country. Additionally, if the person will be employed and doing business on behalf of a company, the employing company must be from the same treaty country.
- The company’s nationality is almost always determined by its ownership, though there are special rules for publicly traded companies. A company must be at least 50 percent owned by persons with nationality from the treaty country who are not lawful permanent residents of the U.S. If these owners are in the U.S., they must be in E-1 or E-2 status.
- In general, unskilled workers and workers with ordinary skills do not usually qualify for the E-1 or E-2 category. Rather, these visas would be for executives, managers or others with skills and experience that are essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise.
Additional Requirements Specific to E-1 Traders
- The international trade must be substantial in the sense that there is a sizable and continuous flow of trade. More than half of the trade activity must be between the U.S. and the treaty country.
- The trade may be in a variety of items such as products, services, or technology but these items must already exist.
- The E-1 visa holder can be an independent trader or an agent or employee of a trader or of a trading company.
Additional Requirements Specific to E-2 Investors
- The investment must come from the investor. The money must be “at risk,” so for example it cannot be a loan that is secured by the assets of the business itself.
- The investment must also be “substantial,” meaning that it is enough to provide a sufficient infusion of capital or credit to permit the business undertaking to be successful.
- The investment must be active; this means that a bank account, undeveloped land or stocks, or a not-for-profit organization will not be sufficient to be considered.
- The E-2 visa holder can be the investor, or an employee of the individual or company that is making the investment.
Please note that a spouse and children (under 21 and unmarried) accompanying the principal E holder are usually given the same classification, irrespective of their nationality.
Note that the list of treaty countries changes often as new treaties are continually signed and ratified. Find the most recent list on the U.S. Department of State WebSite.
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