E-1/E-2 Treaty Visas for Business

business_man_in_city_800_clr_14038The E-1 Treaty Trader or E-2 Treaty Investor Visa are business visas that allow a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when conducting substantial trade with the U.S. (E-1) or investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business (E-2).

Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification. ( List of treaty countries)

Who May File for Change of Status to E-1 or  E-2 Classification

If the applicant  is currently in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, they may file Form I-129 to request a change of status to E-1 or E-2 classification.  If the desired employee is currently in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, the qualifying employer may file Form I-129 on the employee’s behalf.

How to Obtain E-1 or E-2 Classification if Outside the United States

A request for E classification may not be made on Form I-129 if the person being filed for is physically outside the United States.  Interested parties should refer to the U.S. Department of State website for further information about applying for an E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrant visa abroad.  Upon issuance of a visa, the person may then apply to a DHS immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry for admission as an E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrant.

General Qualifications of a Treaty Trader

To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:

  • Be a citizen of a treaty country and the trading firm must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise.
  • Engage in substantial international trade, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade. And more than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country.
  • Must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.

General Qualifications of a Treaty Investor

To qualify for E-2 classification, the treaty investor must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States;
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise.  This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Investor

To qualify for E-2 classification, the employee of a treaty investor or trader must:

  • Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country);
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law;
  • Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

If the principal alien employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country.  These owners must be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty investor status.  If the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty investors.

Period of Stay

Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years.  Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each.  There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E visa may be granted.  All E nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

An E visa nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.  It is generally not necessary to file a new Form I-129 with USCIS in this situation.

Terms and Conditions of E-2 Status

A treaty investor or employee may only work in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the classification was granted.  An E-2 employee, however, may also work for the treaty organization’s parent company or one of its subsidiaries as long as the:

  • Relationship between the organizations is established;
  • Subsidiary employment requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills;

Terms and conditions of employment have not otherwise changed.

Spouses and Dependent Children

Spouses  and children under 21 years may obtain E-1 or E-2 dependent status.  Spouses may obtain work authorization by applying for an employment authorization document.

Related Articles

List of Treaty Countries
E-1 Treaty Trader Requirements
E-2 Treaty Investor Requirements
Immigration Options for Business Owners and Investors

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