Treaty Trader/Investor Visa

E1 & E2

Q: What is E visa?

A: E is a nonimmigrant classification applying to business owners, managers, and employees who must remain in the United States to conduct or to oversee business for lengthy time periods. The visa exists to give effect to treaties between the United States and foreign countries that provide for reciprocal benefits to nationals of each country who either engage in trade between the two countries, or invest in the other country. Thus, the visa is divided into two sub-categories:

  • Treaty Trader (E-1), when an alien represents a foreign company that continues to perform a substantial amount of trade with the United States office.
  • Treaty Investor (E-2), when an alien develops and directs an enterprise in which he or she has invested a substantial amount of capital.
Q: What are the legal requirements?

A: Both E-1 and E-2 visas require that:

  • A treaty of commerce and navigation or a bilateral investment treaty exist between the United States and the foreign country under whose treaty the E status is sought;
  • Majority ownership or control of the trade or investment company be held by nationals of the foreign country under whose treaty the E status is sought – in other words, the foreign company or individual alien seeking to engage in trade or commerce must have the same nationality as the treaty country;
  • Foreign country citizenship of the country under whose treaty the status is sought be held by each employee or principal of the company who is seeking the E status under the treaty.

E-1 visas additionally require that:

  • An alien employee hold a supervisory or managerial role in the trading company, or, alternatively, possess highly specialized technical skills necessary to promote efficient operation of the enterprise;
  • The trading company be engaged in a continued course of international trade of a sizable volume of goods, services, or technology; and
  • More than 50% of the trade take place between the United States and the alien’s home country.

E-2 visas additionally require that:

  • An alien seeking treaty investor status come to the United States intending either to develop and direct a new or pre-existing active United States business, or as a qualified employee essential to such development;
  • The alien’s commitment of funds represent an actual, active investment – speculative, idle, or uncommitted funds are insufficient;
  • The investment be substantial, and involve only those financial transactions which place the alien’s own resources at risk – enterprise assets may not be used to secure investment loans;
  • The investment be irrevocable, and supported by: articles of incorporation, payments for the rental of business premises or office equipment, business licenses, stock certificates, office inventories, insurance appraisals, advertising invoices, annual reports, net worth statements from certified professional accountants, and business bank accounts for routine operations and escrow; and
  • The investment impact the United States in such a way as to generate funds beyond those necessary to support the investor and, in most cases, create employment opportunities for United States workers.
Q: As applied to an E-1 visa, what documents prove "substantial trading?"
A: Evidence of a sizeable volume of trade can be shown by the trading company’s production of three or more of the following: bills of lading, customs receipts, letters of credit, insurance papers documenting commodities imported, carrier inventories, trade brochures, and sales contracts.
Q: As applied to an E-2 visa, what amount constitutes a "substantial investment?"

A: While the INS provides no minimum dollar amount, it considers an investment to be substantial if it complies with one of two tests. The amount invested must be either:

  • Proportional to the total value of the enterprise; or
  • An amount usually viewed as necessary to establish a viable enterprise of a particular type.

Generally, a minimum 75% investment is required where the value of the business or start-up cost is less than $500,000; a minimum 50% investment is required where the value of the business or start-up cost is between $500,000 and $3 million; and a minimum 30% investment is required where the value of the business or start-up cost is greater than $3 million.

Q: For how long is an E visa valid?
A: An alien who has been granted E-status has an initial period of two years to stay in the United States. However, this period may be extended almost indefinitely as long as the E alien declares that he or she will leave the United States when the period of authorized stay, including any unlimited extensions, terminates.

Contact Information

U.S. Office Address: 
60 East 42nd Street, 46th Floor             New York, NY 10165, USA
Phone: 646 480-5779 x 4652

Taiwan Office Address:                       台灣台北建國北路二段66號7樓
66 Jianguo North Road, Section 2, 7th Floor, Taipei, Taiwan 
Phone: 02 2515 5855

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