E-1/E-2 Treaty Trader and Investor Visa
This classification is designated for temporary workers engaged in international trade or investment between the US and their countries of nationality. The nationality of the business is based on the nationality of its owners. The place of incorporation is irrelevant for E visas. The employer or owner of the business must be of a nationality that has a commercial treaty with the US. The E employee must be of the same nationality as the foreign employer or, if the employer is a US company, it must have at least 50% ownership by persons of the same nationality as the treaty country. Finally, the duties of the E employee are principally and primarily executive, supervisory or otherwise essential to the US enterprise. Consular officers at the US embassies abroad do most E classification adjudication. There is no annual limit on the number of admissions under the E classification. Aliens coming to the US to seek out or establish an investment may do so in B-1 visitor status, but they cannot engage in the management or running of the business once it is established, until they have obtained the E-2 visa. In order to qualify, the investment must be active, not passive like stock or real estate. It must involve funds and assets for which the investor is personally at risk. Loans secured by the assets of the enterprise are not acceptable as an investment. It must be substantial as a proportion of the total value of the enterprise or the starting cost of the business, rather than strictly a dollar amount. Also, the business cannot be marginal by only supporting the investor and his family; it must also generate sufficient revenue to employ US workers.
E classification beneficiaries may be admitted for a period of two years. A treaty trader or investor maintains status only while engaged in the approved E activity or employment. Extensions may be granted for up to two years if the treaty foreigner has maintained status and is physically present in the US when the extension is filed. There are an unlimited number of extensions available for the E beneficiary. Family members of an alien qualified for E-1 or E-2 status are classified in the same sub category as the principal alien. There is no separate subcategory for family members as there is in many other nonimmigrant visa categories.
Those countries whose nationals may be granted E status for either trade or investment (E-1 or E-2) are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, China (Taiwan only), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, and United Kingdom. Treaties providing only for trade (E-1) are in existence with the following countries: Bolivia, Brunei, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, and Israel.
Unlike many other nonimmigrant categories, a treaty foreigner does not need to maintain a foreign residence and does not need to specify a date by which s/he intends to depart the US permanently. The alien can remain in the US indefinitely, as long as the trade or investment continues to qualify for treaty classification and the foreigner maintains valid status.