E1 and E2 visas for Traders, Investors and employees of an E visa entity
What are the E visas?
An E visa allows nationals and citizens of foreign countries to come to the Unites States to engage in
trading and investment under specific treaties. The treaties must be those entered by the United States
with the country of nationality or citizenship of the applicant. The basis for granting this category of visa
is for reciprocity and to promote further trade, commerce and investment between the United States
and other treaty partners.
A treaty is any agreement between the United States and the head of state of another country to
encourage commerce, trade, investment and business. There is a specific list of countries with whom
the United States has treaties. These countries are classified as E-1 treaty countries or E-2 treaty
What are the types of E visas available?
The E1 visa is for treaty traders. A treaty trader is a person who engages in the international trade of
goods, services or technology. The trade must be substantial, not minimal.
The E2 visa is for treaty investors. Treaty investors direct and develop businesses where the investor has
already made or is going to make a significant investment.
The E1 or E2 visa are distinct from each other. A trader buys and sells goods, services or technology
while an investor brings funds or capital in the form for cash, deposits, securities, instruments, credit
and other negotiable instruments.
The E1 or E2 may also be issued to employees of E visa entities. An E-visa entity is a company that
engages in substantial trade or investment in businesses in the United States under a treaty. A company
that trades or invests under a treaty must apply for the status of E-visa entity company. Once approved,
the E-status is valid for two years. The administrative, executive or supervisory employees of the E-visa
entity company are qualified for E1 or E2 visas.
An E3 visa is also available but it is discussed separately as it is a type of E visa that is available only for
citizens of Australia.
How long are E-visas valid for?
An E visa can be issued with a validity for up to five years, but during those five years, the foreign
national who holds the visa must continue to engage in activities of trade or investment in the United
What is the benefit of applying for an E visa?
An E visa benefits not only the visa holder but also the visa holder’s dependent spouse and minor
children. They can also enter the United States on an E visa with the principal E visa holder. And more
importantly, the spouse of the E-visa holder can apply for authorization to work in the United States
during his or her stay in the United States.
What circumstances must be proved when applying for an E category visa?
To apply for an E category visa, whether an E1, or E2 visa, you will need to prove that there is a treaty
that is in force between your home country and the United States. The treaty must be one that
encourages a substantial international trade of goods, services and technology, or one that encourages
reciprocal investment between the two countries.
The applicant must prove that:
- He or she is a trader or investor; that is, the applicant directs and develops an investment
- The investment made is real there being a risk of financial loss.
- There is an irrevocable commitment on the part of the investor to invest in the UN.
- The investor owns, possesses and controls the business.
- The investment or trade must be substantial and not minimal.
- The trade or investment must be a legal and bona fide investment.
For applicants who are applying as an employee or officer of an E1 or E2 entity, the applicant must
- The applicant is employed in a company or corporation that is registered as an E1 or E2 entity.
- The company or corporation that employed the applicant has a valid and pending registration as
an E1 or E2 entity.
- The applicant holds an executive, managerial, specialist position in the company or corporation.
- The applicant is an essential skilled worker in the trade or business that is trading under a treaty.
For dependent spouses and children of E1 or E2 visa holders, they must prove their identity, nationality,
citizenship and relationship with the primary E1 or E2 visa holder from whom they derive their eligibility
for the status of a dependent spouse or child.
What intent and purpose must the applicant prove?
Applicants for an E1 or E2 visa must prove that:
- The purpose of their proposed or planned visit to the United States is to engage in activities of
trade or investment.
- They intend to stay in the US temporarily and only in pursuit of activities or investment.
- Once the investment or trade activities are accomplished, and their status as a trader or
investor has terminated, they intend to depart from the United States.
- The applicant has an unequivocal intention to return to his country of nationality or citizenship.
- The applicant must prove that the result of the trade or investment activities must be sufficient
to generate income that the applicant and his or her family can live on while staying in the
- The investment or trading activities will make a significant economic contribution to the United
States. Proof of projected or existing growth of the trade or investment is indispensable.
What documents must be presented?
An applicant must provide the following documentary evidence to prove their purpose and their
eligibility for the issuance of an E category visa:
- Evidence of nationality and citizenship
- Certificate of naturalization
- Proof that at least 50% of the owners of the investment or trading corporation are citizens of a
country with whom the US has a commercial, trade or investment treaty.
- Evidence of substantial trade or investment, amounting to at least $100,000.
- Articles of incorporation or articles of organization of the trading or investment company
- Accounting records such as audited and certified financial and profit and loss statements.
- Business records such as bank certificates and capitalization of the company
- Proof of ownership of a company such as certificates of stock or owner’s certificate.
- Organizational charts that show
- Annual reports of the company if it is publicly traded.
- Evidence of the structure of ownership and the percentage of the capitalization owned by the
- Evidence of sufficient funds to engage in trade or make investment.
- Evidence that the funds to be used in trade or investment comes from legitimate sources.
- Evidence that the trade or investment company or corporation intends to provide employment
to United States citizens.
- Evidence of a business plan or prospectus.
- Financial statements.
- Bank receipt or any proof of payment of the visa fee and the biometric fee
- Proof of confirmation of the submission of the Petition for Non-immigrant Worker (Form I-129)
- If the trading or investment entity will provide services to a corporate entity in the United States, there
must be proof of
- Agreements or contracts for the provision of goods or services.
- Agreement to form a joint venture If the trade or investment is in the nature of a joint venture
- Bills of lading or invoices, letters of credit, trade brochures, inventories, purchase orders,
spreadsheets showing transactions, shipping receipts for goods.
- Tax returns for taxes paid to the US Internal Revenue Service.
What document must I fill up to apply for an E1 or E2 visa?
You need to file a Form I-129. This is a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
Can I apply for an E1 or E2 visa while I am already in the US under a different visa?
Yes, you can apply for an E1 or E2 visa whether you are still outside the United States at the time of the
application or already in the United States at the time you apply for an E visa.
If you are already lawfully in the United States and you wish to apply for an E1 or E2 visa, filing the
petition will also allow you to adjust your status from your former visa to an E1 or E2 visa.
Ask us. We can help. At Lluis Law, we help people by evaluating whether they qualify for an E1 or E2
visa. And if they do, we help them compile documentation, fill up forms and prepare your petition. We
can give you advice as to the types of documents you need to present in support of your petition.