US Visa

E-1 Treaty Trader & E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

The E-1 and E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas issued by the U.S. government to foreign citizens seeking to enter the U.S. to work temporarily. The E-1 is a Treaty Trader visa, while the E-2 is a Treaty Investor visa.

Treaty visas are based on treaties of commerce and navigation between the U.S. and certain countries, for a full list of countries for each E visa type please follow this link:

Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa applicants must establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law and complies with the many requirements for the E visa category. Under both visas the principal beneficiary is allowed to bring certain members of his family in derivative status (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age), and the spouse of the E visa holder may also apply for a work authorization from USCIS.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows the investor to live and work in the US to direct and develop a business. Employees that are also nationals of the same E2 visa Country as the investor may also qualify for an E-2 visa.

Applicants for an E-2 visa must provide documentation to establish:

  • The visa holder must be a national of one of the treaty countries (this requirement does not apply to family members).
  • The investment is “substantial” but there is no set minimum for the necessary investment. However, based on our experience we have concluded that the minimum investment should be of $100,000 USD or more in order to be successful.
  • The investment must all be “non-marginal”, meaning that the business will generate more income than to simply support the investor and the investor’s family (it must be a profitable enterprise). It must contribute to the economy in the U.S., including by employing U.S. workers.
  • The investment should also be put “at risk” and be irrevocably committed and should be placed in a special escrow account.
  • The investor must be the direct source of the invested funds. However, gifts from family or an inheritance are also permitted forms of investment funds.
  • The funded enterprise must also be a real and active commercial undertaking which provides a service or commodity, meaning the company must be at the start up ready phase, meaning there is a signed lease agreement, a business bank account, and anything else that your business will require to be up and running.
  • A business plan detailing a 5-year projections if it is a new company; if the investor purchases an established company a business plan may not be necessary.

E-2 visas can be issued for up to five years. These visas may be renewed indefinitely as there is no maximum renewal limit for E-2 visa holders. Extensions are often granted as long as the issuing US Embassy is satisfied that the business continues to meet the E-2 requirements.

man watching plane flying from gate

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

The E-1 non-immigrant visa permits foreign nationals, key managerial and specialist employees from treaty countries to “develop and direct” imports and exports, a substantial amount of international trade, between the U.S. and the E-1 treaty country. The trade may be in the form of goods, services, or technology. The key for E-1 visas is that there must be a sufficient volume of trade to justify the presence of the E-1 visa holder in the U.S. to manage said trade. Additionally, the trader must have a past history of conducting trade between the US and the treaty country.

Applicants for an E-1 visa must provide documentation to establish:

  • The visa holder must be a national of one of the treaty countries (this requirement does not apply to family members).
  • The visa holder intends to engage in “substantial trade,” though there is no strict definition as to what substantial is.
  • At least 50% of the volume of trade carried out must be between the United States and the designated treaty country which is considered the “principal trade”.
  • The trade could be in the form of physical movement of goods, transportation, or non-physical services, including banking and insurance, tourism, technology, or journalism.
  • As with other US non-immigrant visas, the applicant should be prepared to provide proof that they intend to return to their home country upon the expiration of their visa

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