Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor Visas (E1/E2)
What is an E-Visa?
The official definition (9 FAM 41.51):
“The Immigration and Nationality Act provides this nonimmigrant visa status for a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation who is coming to the United States to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the United States and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.”
In practical terms:
* E-1 (Treaty Trader) visas are for people who own or work for companies that do a substantial amount of trade with the United States, and who will be working for that company in the United States for an extended period of time. E-1 visa applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that their company carries on well-established and significant trade in goods and/or services between the treaty country (typically Mexico) and the United States.
* E-2 (Treaty Investor) visa are for people who personally invest a substantial amount of their own money in ventures within the United States. Typically, this means that they own companies in the United States that require substantial investment and that produce jobs for American citizens and/or legal permanent residents (outside their own family).
What are the requirements for a Treaty Trader (E-1) Visa?
The following is a list of basic requirements for consideration as a Treaty Trader:
* The applicant must be a national of a treaty country
* The trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the U. S. must have the nationality of the treaty country
* The international trade must be “substantial” in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade
* The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that more than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant’s nationality
* Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other
* The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify
What are the requirements for a Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa?
The following list of requirements apply for consideration as a Treaty Investor:
* The investor, 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 business 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. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment
* The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States
* The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed
* The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify
Do I need to submit a petition to USCIS?
No. Applicants for E-1 or E-2 visas are NOT required to submit a petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (I-29) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Furthermore, an approved petition does not in any way replace the E-1/E-2 visa or guarantee that the E-1/E-2 visa will be approved.
What if I’m not Mexican? Can I still apply in Monterrey?
Third country nationals are encouraged to apply for an E-visa in their home country.