Boston E-1 and E-2 Visa Lawyer for Treaty Traders and Investors
What is the E Visa?
The E visa category was designed to give effect to trade and investment treaties between the U.S. and foreign nations providing reciprocal benefits to the nationals the nations signing the treaties; in this way, facilitating commercial interaction between the U.S. and treaty of countries.
It allows investors making a substantial investment in the U.S. (see below definition of “substantial” for investment purposes); or business owners, managers, and employees of an enterprise conducting trade between the U.S. and a treaty nation, who need to remain in the U.S. for extended periods of time to supervise work performed in the U.S., to be able to live and work lawfully.
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 in 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. Applying for a E visa can be challenging – discuss your needs with an experienced E visa lawyer today for guidance.
Who is Eligible for E-1 Visas and E-2 Visas in the US?
For the E-1 Treaty Trader visa:
Aliens who are citizens of a nation that has signed a trade and investment treaty with the U.S., who are coming to the United States:
- Solely to carry on or engage in substantial trade between his/her country and the U.S., including trade in services or trade in technology.
- Principally between the United States and the foreign state of which the alien is a national.
“Substantial” with reference to trade means a continuous exchange of goods and services between the U.S. and the treaty nation of the alien applicant, involving numerous transactions that began prior to the filing of the E-1 Visa application. Trade principally between the U.S. and the foreign state means that at least 50% of the total amount of trade conducted by the alien or his/her enterprise or employer must be between the U.S. and the treaty nation.
For the E-2 Treaty Investor visa:
Aliens Who are Citizens of a Nation that has Signed a Trade and Investment Treaty with the U.S.
- solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he/she has invested; 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, who has the same nationality as the treaty investor employer or the nationals owning at lest 50% of the enterprise, who must be under treaty investor status if residing in the U.S.; and
- showing an intention to depart from the United States upon the termination of his or her status.
The definition of “Substantial” with reference to investment is at the discretion of the Secretary of State. However, in exercising this discretion, the Secretary of State conducts a “Relative Proportionality Test” as a guideline.
Through this test, they assess whether: 1) the value of the investment is substantial as a percentage of the fair market value of the enterprise, or 2) 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, 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.
Although each case is evaluated individually by the State Department, generally the following rules apply in terms of minimum investment expectations:
For investment enterprises valued at less than $500,000
- A minimum of 75% of the total value of the enterprise or for small to medium sized businesses, more than half of the value of the business
- Exceptions may be made for certain start-ups and service businesses, where smaller initial investments may be appropriate depending on the particulars of the type of business
For investment enterprises valued between $500,000 and $3 million
- A minimum of 50% of the value of the business or a flat $1,000,000 is expected to be invested
- The State Department may make an exception if it can be demonstrated that in the specified industry, it is common practice to start a business with less than 50% of the value of the enterprise.
For investment enterprises valued at over $3 million
- A minimum of 30% of the value of the business or a flat $1,000,000 is expected to be invested
All of the following three elements must exist for the E visa to be obtainable:
- There must be a treaty between the U.S. and the country of the company 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 signed a trade/investment treaty with the U.S.
- Each employee or principal seeking E status must hold citizenship of the country, which has signed a trade/investment treaty with the U.S.
Our visa lawyers will help you evaluate your case, to make sure that you meet all the requirements before filing your E Visa application.
What are the E-1 Visa and E-2 Visa Durations?
The initial statutory limitation on the period of stay for an alien with an E-1 Visa or E-2 Visa can be no longer than two years. (Note: It is not uncommon for the U.S. Consulate to issue an E-1 or E-2 visa for five years).
How long does the E Visa status last?
An E Visa application may be approved for 1 to 2 years if the petition is filed in the United States, or for a longer period if it is filed at a U.S. consulate abroad (generally up to 5 years).
Renewability of E-1 and E-2 Visas
The initial E Visa period can be extended as long as you demonstrate the continued viability of his business and the compliance with conditions of the visa.
How many times may I renew it?
There is no time or numerical limitation on E Visa renewals and therefore the E visa status may be renewed and extended indefinitely as long as the requirements for the visa continue to be met.
Family Benefits of E-1 and E-2 Visas
The spouse and unmarried children under 21 of treaty trader or treaty investor aliens qualify for the same status as the principal alien, and their nationality is not relevant to their qualification. They can live and study in the U.S. without any additional permits. The spouse of the visa holder may obtain authorization to work in the U.S.
What status can my spouse and children get if I’m applying for an E Visa or I already have an E Visa?
What Documentation Do I Need for the E-1 Visa and E-2 Visa?
To apply for either visa the alien must provide the following documentation:
For the E-1 Treaty Trader visa:
1. A statement describing in detail the nature and function of the business and the alien’s position
2. Documents demonstrating the continued trade between the United States and the country of the applicant’s nationality, including any of the following as available:
- trade invoices
- sales reports
- shipping records or bills of landing
- summary or audits of international accounts and trade transactions
- company financial statements
- articles of incorporation
- import/export licenses
- bank statements
- annual report
- tax documentation, etc.
3. A copy of passport for all applicants
4. A copy of the birth certificates and marriage certificate to support all secondary applications
5. A copy of U.S. Visa and Form I-94 (if aliens are already in the U.S.) for all applicants
6. If alien is an employee of the treaty trade enterprise, then evidence of position including, organizational chart, job description, and evidence of recruitment efforts made by the enterprise
For the E-2 Treaty Investor visa:
1. A business plan stating in detail the nature and function of the business, the necessary initial investment, and employment projections, including any of the following as available:
- property or real estate costs
- cost of materials
- cost of employee wages
- cost of legal, professional fee, and/or licensing fees
- asset purchase and sale agreements
- mortgage or loan agreements
- contracts or letters of understanding between the treaty enterprise and customers and/or suppliers
- articles of incorporation
- financial statements
Note: for small enterprises we may be able to help in the creation of some of these formal documents if provided with certain information and preliminary documentation
- A comprehensive letter addressed to the U.S. Immigration Service stating the extent of the principal alien’s participation in the investment
- A copy of the investment’s most recent financial statement
- A copy of passport for all applicants
- A copy of the birth certificates and marriage certificate to support all secondary applications; and
- A copy of U.S. Visa and Form I-94 (if aliens are already in the U.S.) for all applicants
- If alien is an employee of treaty investment enterprise, then evidence of position including, organizational chart, job description, and evidence of recruitment efforts made by the enterprise
What is the Process for the E-1 Visa and E-2 Visa Like?
There are three stages in the process.
Preparation of Documentation including:
- Organization of business (if required)
- Business Plan preparation or adaptation for visa purposes
- Preparation of supporting documentation
Time required depends on availability and delivery of documents and overall level of involvement of client
Preparation and filing of E Visa application I-129 and I-129 E supplements
(Time requirements are approximately 15 days from the day all documentation is ready)
The U.S. Immigration Service approval of visa application or receipt of notice requesting additional documentation or evidence to support application. In the latter case, our E Visa attorneys will work with the client to provide the additional information to the U.S. Immigration Service and we will prepare a response with the appropriate analysis and legal argument. This last scenario would increase the amount of time required to complete the process and may also increase the legal fees due, depending on the amount of additional work required.
(Adjudication of visa is approximately 120 to 150 days from filing of application with the U.S. Immigration Service, depending on the center’s caseload)
What are the U.S. Immigration Service (USCIS) filing fees?
The USCIS filing fee for an I-129 petition. In addition, if you would like to request premium processing, you will need to pay the filing fee for an I-907 form.
Click below links to verify the U.S. Immigration Service fees for the forms mentioned above, as they change regularly: