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E-1/E-2, Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors

E-1/E-2 Treaty Traders/Treaty Investors Treaty Trader- E-1

Treaty Trader visas are for qualified persons to carry on the trading of goods, services and technology. To qualify: (1) the person must have the nationality of the treaty country; (2) there must be substantial trade between the US and the country of nationality which is continuous and ongoing and constitutes over 50% of revenues; and (3) the applicant is either the principal trader or an executive, manager or employee with special skills essential to the company.

Treaty Investor- E-2

Treaty investor visas are for qualified persons to develop and direct the operations of a business in which they have invested or are investing in. To qualify the person or company must have the nationality of the treaty country and have made or be making a substantial investment in a business in the US. The business enterprise must itself provide an annual income for the applicant and dependents to live stateside which is clearly NOT marginal. The individual must either be the principal investor or an executive, manager, or employee with special skills essential to the company; and the investment does or will generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the investor (and family) or does or will make significant economic contribution.

Citizens of countries having an appropriate trade treaty, also known as friendship commerce and navigation treaties, may apply for one of the two treaty visas. Click here to see list of current treaty trader and treaty investor countries.

Spouses and minor children (under age 21) of E-1/E-2 visa holders are entitled to apply for visas as well. The length of time the visa will be issued for is determined by the agreements between the treaty country and the United States. New applicants filing at the U.S. Embassy in London will initially only be granted a two-year approval, except in exceptional circumstances (e.g., a multimillion dollar investment). Visas may not be issued for a period greater than five years, but are renewable without limit. Hence, with renewals, it may be possible to renew for decades - even a lifetime - so long as one continues to meet the criteria.

How to apply for an E-1/E-2 visa:
Applications must be made at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate to your permanent place of residence. Some posts may accept applications from third country nationals but only if the person has lawful status in that country. Please be aware that some consular posts have a strict format for the submission of documents. Applicants must adhere to that format.

All applicants aged 14 to 79 will require a personal interview. Processing varies depending on the time of the year and the volume of work. However, at the current time processing of E-1/E-2 applications in London is approximately fourteen to sixteen weeks, and thereafter, once the E-1 or E-2 entity is approved, there is a wait for one's personal visa interview before the treaty visa consular officer. You must consider the time for the internal mail process, the processing of the visa and the decision to be returned to you. Posts are closed on all statutory holidays both those observed in the country where the post is located and those observed in the United States.

The following documentation is required:

  1. A DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, which must be completed and submitted online. A passport-style photograph must also be scanned and uploaded when completing the DS-160.
  2. A completed, signed and dated DS-156E form.
  3. A valid passport. There should be at least six months of unexpired validity and at least one blank page to insert the machine-readable visa. You will need to bring a valid passport to your visa interview at the Embassy if the company registration application is approved.
  4. In addition to the above the following information should be presented with respect to the E-1 treaty trader:
    • to prove trade in goods, the applicant should present bills of lading and other traditional business documents.
    • to prove trade in services, the applicant should present a summary or audit of international accounts and transactions, and, if necessary for verification, contracts demonstrating the nature of the trade/service activity, the value/cost of such, and the timer of performance of these activities, as well as other conditions of the transaction.
  5. In addition to the above the following information should be presented with respect to the E-2 treaty investor. Very substantial documentation is needed particularly for smaller enterprises:
    • Legal formation documents of the E-2 enterprise.
    • Financial accounts of the E-2 enterprise
    • Bank account statements for the E-2 enterprise
    • Commercial lease of the enterprise
    • Detailed business plan including projected accounts
    • Evidence of substantial investment made, e.g. invoices, contracts, bills of sale
    • Personnel chart of the enterprise
    • Other documentation as appropriate
  6. Payment of the visa issuance fee, where required. Please contact Ferman Law who can advise as to which nationalities must pay visa issuance fees and the fee payable.

Note - What about the Spouse?
The spouse of E-1/E-2 treaty trader and treaty investor is entitled to work in the United States upon the issuance of an Employment Authorization Document by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"). The Application for Employment Authorization must be filed with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the geographic area where the spouse resides.

How We Can Help You:
At Ferman Law we go though detailed reviews and analysis with our clients as to the feasibility and requirements for their visa applications. The E-1/E-2 visa application is usually the most complex non-immigrant application.We will prepare a comprehensive company registration application package. We will assist you and your accountant with the preparation of the requisite business plan. Upon approval of the company registration application, we will prepare the visa applications for you and your dependents. We will obtain the required fee receipt(s) and make payment on your behalf. We will also prepare you for your visa interview. In addition, we can provide related tax and commercial advice (see Going to America for further info.)

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