E-1 and E-2 visas allow citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States and stay to either conduct trade or manage their investments in an American business. They also allow certain employees of the treaty trader or investor to stay in the U.S. as well.
These visas are very similar but designed for two different kinds of foreign business ventures.
E-1 treaty trader visa
In order to qualify for an E-1 visa, you must conduct substantial trade between the U.S. and the country of which you are a national (or be a qualifying employee of a qualifying treaty trader enterprise). Trade items can range from typical goods and services to tourism, insurance, banking and information technology.
“Substantial trade” simply means that enough trade must occur to allow for “the continuous flow of international trade items” between both countries over the course of the visa holder’s stay. While there is no minimum amount that must be traded in order to qualify, more valuable trades are given greater weight.
E-2 investor visa
Rather than conduct trade, E-2 visa holders enter the U.S. to invest money and manage current investments in active and operating American businesses. E-2 visa applicants must “have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States.” They must also be traveling to the U.S. to manage and direct these investments.
A “substantial amount of capital” is relative, as with the E-1 visa’s trade requirements. The capital should be significant relative to the total costs of the business and must be enough to promote the ongoing success of the business. The investment must also be enough for the investor to stay and manage the investment enterprise.
Similarities to keep in mind
In order to qualify for either visa, you must be a national of a country with which the U.S. shares a qualifying treaty or agreement. If your country is not part of this list, you will have to explore other work visa options.
Both visas also have similar validity periods. E-1 and E-2 visas are initially granted for a maximum of two years, and can be extended in two-year increments as long as the visa holder qualifies.
The E visa category offers many opportunities for foreign traders and investors. Knowing your options is the first step toward successfully obtaining your visa.