The E-1 Treaty Trader visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows nationals of qualifying Treaty countries who undertake a significant amount of international trade with the United States to work legally in the US, travel freely in and out of the US, and stay within the US for the duration of the E-1 visa.
You may be eligible to apply for an E-1 visa if:
(1) You are a citizen of a qualifying Treaty nation, and
(2) You are involved in international trade between your country and the United States as:
(A) An executive, manager, or specialist in a foreign company where 50% of the company is owned by nationals from the Treaty country, or
(B) An 50% owner of the foreign company.
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign investors from Treaty nations to enter the United States to carry out investment and trade activities.
You may be eligible to apply for an E-2 visa if:
(1) You are a citizen of a qualifying Treaty nation,
(2) You have invested or are actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a United States company, and
(3) You are either a 50% owner of the United States company or a key employee with supervisory or executive control within the company that is 50% owned by nationals of the Treaty country.
Top 10 Things to Know About E Visas
The E visa can be a great way for foreign nationals not only to enter US markets, but also to secure long-term residence in the United States without having to go through the process of obtaining permanent residency. While the requirements are many, here is a quick list of the top ten things to know about E visas:
1.E visa applicants must be nationals of a country with which the United States has a treaty of commerce and navigation. Check out the US Department of State’s list of treaty countries.
2.E-1 visas are for treaty traders. E-2 visas are for treaty investors. E1 treaty traders must be entering the US solely for the purpose of engaging in substantial international trade, either for themselves or for a foreign employer, and principally between the United States and the treaty nation from which the E-1 applicant hails. E2 treaty traders must be entering the US solely to develop and direct an enterprise into which he has invested, or is currently investing, asubstantial amount of capital.
3. For E-1 treaty traders, there is no minimum monetary value or volume for each trading transaction. While the monetary value of the trade item being traded is a relevant factor, USCIS gives greater weight to more numerous transactions of greater value.
4. For E-2 treaty investors, there is no minimum required investment. The investment need only be substantial in proportion to what it would cost to buy a business of the same nature, or start up such a business from scratch. Again, while there is no minimum investment, a good rule of thumb is a minimum investment of $100,000.
5. If you are in the United States in one temporary status, and want to change status to an E visa, you can apply to do so, but you should try to maintain your previously accorded status while you wait for the E visa application to be decided. Even if you applied for change of status before your original I-94 expired, you are considered out of status when the I-94 expires, even if your application for change of status is still pending. In such a case, if USCIS approves the change of status, your new E status will be backdated to the expiration of your previously accorded status. If USCIS denies the change of status, you will need to depart the United States immediately.
6. If you are in the United States in some other status and want to change to E-1 or E-2 status, you are eligible to file for premium processing, which guarantees processing of the case within 15 calendar days. The premium processing fee is $1,225. If USCIS fails to process the case within 15 days, they will return the premium processing fee.
7. Both treaty traders and treaty investors, when applying for their respective E visas, must demonstrate intent to depart the US when their status expires or terminates. This can be accomplished through a sworn statement indicating as much submitted with the E visa application.
8. Initial E visa status is granted for a maximum of two years. Extensions of such status can also be granted in maximum increments of two years. There is no limit on the number of extensions that may be granted.
9. Dependent spouses of E visa principals can obtain employment authorization in the United States.
10. Subject to certain restrictions, E visa holders can use their status to employ other people, who will receive derivative E visa status. E visa employees must possess the same nationality as the principal E visa employer.
$100,000 or Less, Potential Small-Scale Business Models for E-2 Investors
In many cases of investor visas, a common issue is what amount of capital is needed for the investment in order to convince USCIS or the consulates that the investment is viable. For E-2 investor visas, there is no required amount of investment that will trigger an approval or a denial. However, while no specific regulation exists, the underlying understanding is that USCIS and the consulates prefer that the investment be at least over $100,000. As such, investments that are lower than that threshold are generally more highly scrutinized than those that are higher. However, that does not mean that investments under $100,000 are not eligible for E-2 visas. In fact, if the business is in operation, profitable, and executed properly, the investment may qualify for an E-2 visa. While the business options may be limited with a smaller capital investment, below are some viable options that may qualify for an E-2 visa:
(1) Beauty Salons
(2) Mailing or Courier Services
(3) Landscaping Companies
(4) Building Contractor and Painting Services
(5) Automobile Care Centers
(6) Learning or Tutoring Centers
(7) Home Cleaning Services
(8) Retail Franchises
(9) Small-scale Restaurants
Interested in E-2 Visas? Some Common Questions Regarding E-2 Visas
What types of businesses qualify for an E-2 investor visa?
There are no restrictions as to the types of businesses that are eligible as a valid E-2 business. Therefore, all types of businesses may qualify.
What is the investment amount necessary for the E-2 investor visa?
There are no set amounts required to qualify for an E-2 investment. However, lower investment amounts (under $150,000) will be placed under greater scrutiny during the processing procedures. Therefore, while the investment amount is not the only factor taken into consideration for the visa, larger investment amount will offer greater credibility to the petition.
What privileges does an E-2 investor visa holder enjoy?
An investor visa holder may (1) work legally in the company of the E-2 investment, (2) travel freely in and out of the United States, and (3) bring spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States.
How long can I stay in the United States with an E-2 investor visa?
There is no limit as to the length of time an investor visa holder may stay in the United States. While the initial visa is valid for two years, an unlimited amount of extensions can be filed as long as the visa holder maintains the necessary qualifications.