E Visas – E-1 for Traders and E-2 Visa for Investors
Who can obtain an E visa for investors/traders and what are the requirements?
There are two types of E visas. The E-1 visa, also known as the Treaty Trader Visa, and the E-2 visa, also known as the Treaty Investor Visa.
The Treaty Trader Visa, E-1, is designed for aliens who are citizens of a nation that has signed a trade treaty with the U.S., who are coming to the United States to:
- Carry on or engage in substantial trade between his/her country and the U.S. (this generally means that 50% or more of the trade the foreign alien’s business conducts is with the US). This also includes trade in services and trade in technology.
The Treaty Investor, E-2 Visa, is designed for aliens of a nation that has signed an investment treaty with the U.S., who are coming to the United States:
- solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he /she has invested in; OR
- solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he/she is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital; OR
- as an employee who will perform services that require special qualifications essential to the operations of the treaty investor’s enterprise.
The definition of “Substantial” with reference to investment is at the discretion of the US government, and they generally assess whether:
- The value of the investment is substantial as a percentage of the fair market value of the enterprise (75% of the value of the enterprise for smaller businesses and 50% of the value of the enterprise for businesses valued above $500,000), or
- Whether the value of the investment is substantial as a percentage of the capital usually required to establish the specified type of business in the specified industry specified in the application., as per the visa application.
In addition, the investment enterprise must not be “marginal”, meaning it must have the capacity in the present or future to provide income more than a living wage to the investor and his/her family.
The importance of having a strong documentation of finances
For E visas, it is important to have strong documentation of finances, including:
- the source of the investment funds
- the tax history of any existing entity as well as the individuals, and
- a detailed business plan that demonstrates the viability and growth opportunity of the business.
- For treaty investment visas, it is also important to show that the funds belong to the investor and they are not a gift from another party.
In addition, the following 3three elements must exist for the E visa to be approvable:
- There must be a treaty between the U.S. and the country of the company and that of the or national applying for the visa
- The majority ownership or control of the enterprise engaged in trade or investment with the U.S. must be held by nationals from the country which has the signed a trade or /investment treaty. with the U.S.
- Each employee or principal seeking E status must hold citizenship of the country, which has signed the trade or /investment treaty. with the U.S.
Premium processing option for E visa petition filed in the US
There is a premium processing option for E visa petitions filed in the US, which for an additional filing fee, the U.S. Immigration Service will commit to process the application within 15 business days from receipt of the application. This does not mean that there will necessarily be a final decision after 15 days, but that there will be a response by this time. This response may be a visa approval, a denial or it may also include a request for additional documentation.
Generally, E visas are granted for a period of 2-5 years, and the initial visa period can be extended indefinitely. The spouse and unmarried children under 21 of E visa holders can obtain a derivative E visa and may live and study in the U.S. without any additional permits. In addition, the spouse of the E visa holder may obtain authorization to work in the U.S.
For more information and a list of the documents required for an E visa, please visit this web page.
If you would like to obtain legal help from of one of our E visa immigration attorneys, in preparing your E visa petition, please contact our office to make an appointment at: 617-303-2600. We will be happy to help you.