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

 
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Summary

Individual foreign investors, foreign entities, (and in some cases, executive or supervisory employees of the investor or entity) may qualify for an E-1 or E-2 visas provided they are nationals of countries that have signed bi-lateral Treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with the US. Treaty Traders (E-1s) must be citizens of a qualifying treaty country and must engage in or be employees of companies that are qualifying treaty traders and have substantial bilateral trade to/from the US and the treaty country. Treaty Investors (E-2) must be citizens of a qualifying treaty country and they and/or the company they work at must be a Treaty Company and make a “substantial investment” in a U.S. Enterprise.  In addition to multinational companies and medium sized businesses, self-employed individuals may also qualify for an E-1 or E-2 Treaty visa. Approximately 60 countries have signed treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with the US.


Qualifying for an E-1 Visa

Applicants for an E-1 Visa must prove four (4) essential elements in order to qualify for an E-1 Visa:

  • The trader (either the individual or company) must be a treaty national
  • The international trade must be at least 50% between the treaty country and the US
  • The trade must be substantial
  • The employee applicants must be:
    • Of the same nationality as the principal trader and either perform duties at the director/manager level, or
    • Have special qualifications that make his or her skills essential to the operation of the enterprise.

Qualifying for an E-2 Visa

Applicants for E-2 visas must prove three (3) essential elements in order to qualify for an E-2 visa:

  • The investor must have a treaty status, and
  • The investment must be "substantial" and must result in an active and operating enterprise, and
  • The employee applicants must be:
    • Of the same nationality as the principal investor and either perform duties at the director/manager level, or
    • Have special qualifications that make his or her skills essential to the operation of the enterprise.

Treaty Status for Individual Investor:

Person must be a national of a country that has a "treaty of commerce and navigation" or a "bilateral investment treaty" in place with the United States.


Treaty Status for Foreign Company Investor:

The foreign company must be at least 50% owned by nationals of the same treaty company. Companies that are publicly traded generally are considered to have the nationality of the country where its stock was initially listed on a public stock exchange. Place of incorporation is not relevant to determining nationality.


Substantial Investment Resulting in an Active and Operating Enterprise

The size of the investment will be considered in light of the type of business that is being created in the United States. The investment must be enough to establish a viable business of whatever type has been initiated. For example, if an investor is building a semiconductor plant in the US, then the amount of investment that would rise to the level of "substantial" for this enterprise would be very large. Far less would be required for an investor starting an internet-based company.


Investor's Employees Qualifying for the E-2 Visa

The employees of the individual investor or of the investor entity must meet two criteria to qualify for the E-2 visa:

  • They must be nationals of the same country as the investor, and
  • They must be going to the US:
    • To assume a position with executive or supervisory duties, or
    • Possessing special qualifications that make them essential to the operation of the company.

 
 
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Alan Tafapolsky

415 344 3602
Alan.Tafapolsky@tsmimmigration.com

 
 
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