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E-1/E-2 Treaty Traders and Temporary Investors

What is an E-1/E-2 Treaty Trader/Investor Visa?

Treaty Trader (E-1) and Investor (E-2) visas are nonimmigrant visas for nationals from countries with which the U.S. has a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation (a list of treaty countries can be found at the end of this article).The applicants must be coming to the U.S. to engage in substantial trade between the U.S. and the alien’s country of nationality or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.

How Do I Qualify?

To qualify for an E-1 Treaty Trader Visa, candidates should be employed with a firm in the U.S. that has the nationality of the treaty country, the applicant must be a national of the treaty country, the international trade must be “substantial”; there must be a sizable and continuing volume of trade, and the trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that more than 50% of the firm’s international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant’s nationality. Trade means the international exchange of goods, money, services, or technology. Title of items must pass from one party to another.

To qualify as a Treaty Investor (E-2), candidates should have (either a real or corporate person) must be a national of a treaty country. The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise. The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. The investment must not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than needed to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.

How do I Apply?

If the applicant is outside the U.S., the application is made directly with the U.S. Consulate. Most consulates use Form DS-156 visa application and Form DS-156E supplemental form. All supporting evidence and fees are submitted to the consular officer. Be sure to check the U.S. Consulate’s for their specific procedures regarding visa applications and interviews. They will also list the visa application fees and current forms to submit.

If the applicant is in the U.S. and is applying for a change or extension of status, the application is made by filing Form I-129 along with the E Classification Supplement with the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center. All supporting evidence and fees are submitted should be submitted with the Form I-129. Once the petition is approved, the USCIS will send a notice of approval with a detachable I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. A new visa may be required if the beneficiary subsequently leaves the U.S. and wishes to re-enter. 

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