E-1 (Treaty Trader) and E-2 (Treaty Investor) visas are somewhat the most popular for those who is interested in conducting business in the U.S. We will try to set out the main features for these visa types in this article.
First of all, the E-1 ‘treaty trader’ visa and the E-2 ‘treaty investor’ visa are for qualified persons who respectively carry out trade and invest in the U.S.
There are two possible ways to apply for the E-1 and E-2 Visas. These are, namely, applying in a U.S. Consulate or applying for “Change of Status” within the U.S. As for the first way, the general application procedure in the consulate is, somewhat, similar to a regular tourist visa application. The process again involves filling out forms and gathering documents (which is naturally more in volume compared to tourist visa) and scheduling an interview. Yet, the consulate officials strictly evaluate the process and check whether the trade/investment is “substantial” and meet other conditions.
The final and most crucial phase in the application process is generally the interview phase. Following the submission of necessary documents, consulate officials usually appoint a date and time for an interview. During the interview, the officials often ask about the overview of the applicants’ business and the role the applicant play within the company. They might even pick a random invoice and asks questions about the invoice and the related purchase.
Although applying to a U.S. Consulate abroad is the common way to obtain E-1/E-2 visa, there is another way to get them. It is also possible to apply for a “Change of Status” while legally residing in the U.S. The Change of status application is filed with USCIS, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The most distinguishable features of this second way are that the applicants are required have already a legal status in the U.S. and that to fill “Form I-129.” However, there is one scenario that the “Change of Status” can be more convenient for the applicants even though the consulate option is more common.
- Being a citizen of treaty country
First prerequisite to be eligible to apply these visa is that only citizens of certain countries with which the U.S. has a valid Treaty of Commerce and Navigation. Providing the applicant fulfill this criterion, the applicants’ applications are processed and reviewed in merit.
E-1 visa: The already established company also has to be the nationality of a treaty country.
E-2 visa: At least 50 percent of the invested business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.
- Being the investor/trader himself/herself; or being a executive or supervisor role within the company; or being a specialized employee
Executives and supervisors are the qualified personnels who develop and direct the trade or investment of the principal investor/trader in the U.S. During the application and the interview, the applicant must be able to demonstrate their executive or supervisory skills and roles.
Specialist or specialized employee mean the personnels whose qualifications that are essential for the U.S. business. The expertise of such personnel must be thoroughly and clearly demonstrated and that a U.S. resident might not be able to fill the position.
- The amount of the investment/trade must be substantial.
E1 visaà The amount of the trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.
E2 visaà The investment must be a real and an active commercial operation. The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense, meaning that the investment must be real and irrevocable.
As there is no official minimum level set by the U.S. authorities, substantial in this context can vary according to each case. The lower the amount of trade or investment, the riskierthe application will become. It is safe to expect that the trade&investment must be amounted at least $80,000 – $100,000.
- Applicant must be able and willing to leave the U.S. upon termination of their E visa status
- DS forms (DS160 and DS 156)
- Personal documents such as Passport, marriage certificate, diplomas
- Statement that you intent to return to your home country when your visa is expired.
- Tax returns of your company
- A Business Plan of the business
- Company documents such asArticles of Incorporation, agreements, etc.
- Invoices and bills to prove the volume of the trade&investment