E-1 and E-2: Visas for Traders and Investors
Are you interested in expanding your investments to the U.S.? Do you conduct most of your trade in the U.S., and want to manage your business from here? Or maybe you have a new business idea in mind and would like to take advantage of the United States’ massive economy and consumer spending power.
Whether you are a veteran business owner or seeking to start a new enterprise, the E-1 or E-2 visa may be the key to advancing your commercial interests in the U.S.
What are E-1 and E-2 visas?
E visas allow foreign nationals of countries with a qualifying treaty with the U.S. to conduct business in the U.S. The E-1 visa is for traders and the E-2 visa is for investors. Individuals are permitted to carry out trade or investment obligations for themselves or on behalf of their employer. E visa holders have temporary residence status in the U.S.
Do I qualify?
The prerequisite for E-1 and E-2 is for a valid commercial treaty to exist between the U.S. and the country of the individual trader or investor’s nationality. The complete list of valid countries for these visas is found here. E-1 and E-2 non-immigrants must demonstrate their commitment to short-term residence in the U.S. by proving strong ties to their home country and intent to leave the United States at the end of the E valid immigration status.
E-1 – Treaty Trader
The E-1 treaty trader lives and works in the U.S. while actively involved in the trade of goods and services between the U.S. and the treaty country. The trade must be primarily, meaning over 50%, between the U.S. and treaty country. The trade must also be “substantial,” or frequent and valuable enough to maintain the flow of goods or services in exchange for considerations while the business is in operation. Profit from the trade only needs to be enough to support the E-1 individual and their family.
E-2 – Treaty Investor
Non-immigrants with the E-2 treaty investor classification have significantly invested or intend to significantly invest in a registered company in the U.S. The investment must be so great that its profit supports more than just the E-2 individual and their family, and the individual must facilitate the growth of the business while in the U.S.
Valid E-2 investments may take a variety of forms, such as monetary, equipment, property, and others. Regardless of the form of their capital, the E-2 treaty investor must maintain complete control of it and invest it all into the U.S. entity solely to make profit. In addition to controlling all of their assets, treaty investors are required to own the majority of the business in which they invest and exercise executive and supervisory duties for their entity.
How to Apply
If you are in the U.S. in legal immigration status, you can submit a petition to USCIS requesting change of status to E-1 or E-2. If you are outside of the U.S., you may apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa at a U.S. consulate in your country. Whether you apply for a visa at the U.S. consulate or file a petition through USCIS, documentary evidence is critical for approval. Applicants must prove their nationality, the extent of their trade or investments related to the petitioning entity, their actual role in trading or investing and developing the business, executive or managerial job duties, their plans to leave the U.S. after the E-1 or E-2 visa or status has expired, and other details relevant to the lawfulness of their stay. Successful applicants provide a clear and verifiable paper trail of all their personal assets from the moment the asset is acquired through its trade or investment in the U.S. entity.
The burden of proof for E-1 and E-2 visa applicants is on the applicant. A great deal of thorough and certifiable evidence is required. The application process can be complicated, but Palmer Rey PLLC has experience helping individuals and companies acquire authorization for their trade and investment projects. If you or your company would like to take advantage of business opportunities in the U.S., contact our office to get started.