E Visas: Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor
If you desire to enter the United States with the goal to establish trade with your native country or to start a business in the United States, you may be eligible for an E-1/E-2 Visa. Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are available, if you meet certain criteria and categories of eligibility.
The first requirement is to demonstrate that you are a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. You will also need to demonstrate that you are eligible for one of the categories. For the E-1 category, you may provide evidence that you are coming to the United States to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the United States and your native country. For the E-2 category, you may demonstrate that you are entering the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise, in which you have invested, or are in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in the business. You will need strong documentary evidence to establish these elements, and your immigration attorney will assist you in providing the best evidence for your application.
If you are currently in the United States, the process would be conducted with USCIS. If you are in your home country, the process would be conducted by the U.S. Consulate responsible for non-immigrant work visas closest to you. If you wish to obtain a visa in your passport for future travel purposes and not simply change your status while living in the United States, you should ask your immigration attorney about the advantages of consular processing.
E-1: Treaty Trader
If you are considering the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa and match the description above relating to trade, you must meet specific requirements to qualify under immigration law.
Both USCIS and consular processing will require you to demonstrate that you are a national of a treaty country, and that the trading firm for which you are coming to the United States (or considering while already living in the United States) must have the nationality of the treaty country.
You will also need to establish certain characteristics of the business in order to qualify:
(1) the business' international trade must be proven to be "substantial;"
(2) the business or firm's trade must be principally between the United States and the treaty country;
(3) the trade should be for goods, services or technology, and title must be transferred;
(4) you must be employed by the firm or company in a supervisory or executive capacity, or you may also be considered to possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm.
E-2: Treaty Investor
If you are a foreign national with funds to invest in a commercial enterprise, you may consider the E-2 visa (Treaty Investor Visa). To qualify for this visa, you must meet specific requirements under immigration law. As with the E-1 Visa, the process may begin with USCIS if you are currently in the United States. If you are outside of the United States, it may begin with the consular office responsible for non-immigrant work visas closest to you.
As the investor, you must be a national of a treaty country. You must also be able to demonstrate that the investment is substantial, and it must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the company. The government has not, and will not, define a specific monetary value that is considered to be "substantial." Certain business operations and expenses can also be considered as part of your investment, but vary according to the type of business and normal monetary business requirements. It is advantageous to speak with an immigration attorney regarding what may constitute a "substantial" investment for your industry. In addition, you must demonstrate that you are investing in a legitimate and operational company and not merely a speculative or idle investment, for example, certain investments in real estate. The funds you use for the investment must be under your control and must be at risk. You will need to advise your attorney if the funds were not under your control at all times and were a gift or obtained by a loan. These situations do not automatically disqualify the investment, but special consideration must be given before starting the process. You must also prove that your company will generate more income than only providing a living for you and your family and will have an economic impact on a community in the United States.
If you are not the principal investor, or if you require an employee from your native country in this category, you must demonstrate that you or the employee is employed in a supervisory/ executive role or highly specialized skill capacity.
As with the E-1 visa, if you are in the United States and wish to obtain a visa in your passport for travel purposes in the future and not simply to change your status while living in the United States, you should ask your immigration attorney about the advantages of possibly returning to your home country to process through the consulate.
This information is a general description of the E Visa category and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney/client relationship. If you believe this visa describes your need for entry into the United States contact us to evaluate your options.