Citizens of countries which have entered into trade treaties with the U.S. are eligible to receive non-immigrant visas to come to the U.S. in order to increase trade between their country and the U.S., or to manage a investment they have made in the U.S.
Nationals of qualifying countries may apply for an E1 visa in order to ‘Develop and Direct’ import/export trade (of goods or services) between their own country and the US. They may also apply for E1 visas for key managerial and specialist employees.
The prospective Treaty Trader must demonstrate that:-
- There will be a substantial number of trade transactions between the US and the treaty country.
- There will be a substantial dollar value to the trade between the US and the treaty country.
- The majority of international (i.e. not including transactions within the Treaty country or within the US) trade transactions undertaken by the applicant (have been and) will be between the US and the treaty country.
- The majority of the dollar value of trade (has been and) will be between the US and the treaty country.
- The trader (or his/her employees seeking E1 visas) has sufficient business acumen and experience to develop and direct the trade.
- The trader, and any other E1 staff, are able and willing to leave the US upon termination of their E1 status.
- The trader has a past history of conducting trade between the US and the treaty country.
The E1 Visa initially allows a stay of up to 2 years, and there is no limit to the total time the visa holder may renew the visa and remain in America providing they continue to meet all visa extension requirements. In addition, the spouse of an E-1 Visa holder and dependent children are also granted this visa status.
Treaty Investor Visa (E-2)
Individuals who make a substantial investment in the U.S. are eligible for the E-2 visa category, which allows them to come to the U.S. to manage their investment.
Multiple investors of the same nationality can qualify for E status based upon investments in the same enterprise. At least treaty nationals must own 50% of the enterprise. Some of the special benefits available to treaty investors not available to other nonimmigrants are:
- Duration Of Stay. Although an initial period of stay of up to two years may be granted to persons coming to the U.S. in the “E” category, this period can be extended almost indefinitely, usually in five-year increments.
- Application Process. The application for “E” status can be made directly to a U.S. Consulate and no separate or additional application must be made to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).
- Special Conditions . “E” visa holders are not required to maintain a foreign residence to which they intend to return, as long as it is their intention to leave the United States at some time in the future when their period of stay expires.
In addition to holding citizenship within a treaty country, applicants for a treaty investor E-2 visa must satisfy requirements, including:
- Active Investment. The investor must make a commitment of funds that represents an actual, active investment. Moreover, the investor’s money must be “at risk”, and not merely available.
- Substantial Investment. The investment must be substantial, taking into account only those financial transactions in which the investor’s own resources are at risk. Although ther is no minimum amount to qualify for E-2 status, to satisfy the “substantial” requirement, the Department of State uses a “relative-proportionality” test. The test is: (i) the amount invested weighted against the total cost of purchasing or creating the enterprise; (ii) the amount normally considered sufficient to ensure successful operation of the enterprise; and (iii) the magnitude of the investment. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionally, the investment must be to be considered substantial. At the same time, a million dollar investment may be insufficient, for example, if the enterprise is extremely large, such as a steel mill.
Spouse of a E-2 visa holder can qualify for work authorization, and children under 21 can attend U.S. schools.