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Home >> Cross Border Transactions >> Immigration Visas >> Treaty Visas Information
>> Introduction to Treaty Visas >> Do I Qualify for E1 Visa? >> Do I Qualify for E2 Visa?
>> Which Employees Qualify for E Visas? >> Treaty Visa Application Process Flowchart >> FAQs
Introduction to Treaty Visas
The United States has signed treaties with most of the other countries in the world over the years, in particular treaties of 'Friendship’, ‘Commerce’ and ‘Navigation'. These treaties are designed to promote trade and investment between the U.S. and the other contracting country, thereby encouraging good relations and peace. More recently the U.S. has entered into a number of Bilateral Investment Treaties with mainly former communist countries. These treaties are designed to promote investment but general do not confer any trade-related immigration privileges.

Nationals (individuals or companies) of countries with such treaties with the United States can obtain visas to work in the U.S. in order to develop and direct their investment in and/or trade with the U.S. Such visas are called E-visas.

There are two types of employees who may be sponsored for treaty visas:

The E1 Treaty Trader
This type of visa is for nationals of qualifying treaty countries who undertake a significant amount of international trade with the United States. The volume of such trade must be sufficient to justify the trader or his/her employee(s) being in the United States to manage the trade, and must constitute the majority of the trader's international trade (i.e. at least 50% of the trader's exports/imports must be to/from the U.S.). There is no set minimum level of trade which is considered sufficient, but the lower the volume of trade the less likely one is to qualify as a treaty trader.

The E2 Treaty Investor
Nationals of qualifying treaty countries who have made a significant investment in the United States may qualify for E2 Treaty Investor status. Like the E1 visa, there is no set minimum level of investment which may qualify for E2 status, but the lower the investment the less likely one is to qualify. Again, the level of investment must be sufficient to justify the treaty national’s (or his/her employee’s) presence in the United States. The investment must be in an operating business – i.e. simply buying property or stocks and bonds does not qualify. Also, a substantial part of the investment must have been made before applying for E2 status.
Introduction to Treaty Visas
The United States has signed treaties with most of the other countries in the world over the years, in particular treaties of 'Friendship’, ‘Commerce’ and ‘Navigation'. These treaties are designed to promote trade and investment between the U.S. and the other contracting country, thereby encouraging good relations and peace. More recently the U.S. has entered into a number of Bilateral Investment Treaties with mainly former communist countries. These treaties are designed to promote investment but general do not confer any trade-related immigration privileges.

Nationals (individuals or companies) of countries with such treaties with the United States can obtain visas to work in the U.S. in order to develop and direct their investment in and/or trade with the U.S. Such visas are called E-visas.

There are two types of employees who may be sponsored for treaty visas:

The E1 Treaty Trader

This type of visa is for nationals of qualifying treaty countries who undertake a significant amount of international trade with the United States. The volume of such trade must be sufficient to justify the trader or his/her employee(s) being in the United States to manage the trade, and must constitute the majority of the trader's international trade (i.e. at least 50% of the trader's exports/imports must be to/from the U.S.). There is no set minimum level of trade which is considered sufficient, but the lower the volume of trade the less likely one is to qualify as a treaty trader.

The E2 Treaty Investor

Nationals of qualifying treaty countries who have made a significant investment in the United States may qualify for E2 Treaty Investor status. Like the E1 visa, there is no set minimum level of investment which may qualify for E2 status, but the lower the investment the less likely one is to qualify. Again, the level of investment must be sufficient to justify the treaty national’s (or his/her employee’s) presence in the United States. The investment must be in an operating business – i.e. simply buying property or stocks and bonds does not qualify. Also, a substantial part of the investment must have been made before applying for E2 status.
Do I Qualify for E1 Visa?
The following countries have treaties with the United States that allow qualifying nationals to apply for treaty trader status:

Argentina China (ROC) Georgia Kyrgyzstan Pakistan Switzerland
Armenia Colombia Germany Latvia Panama Thailand
Australia Congo Grenada Liberia Philippines Togo
Austria Costa Rica Honduras Luxembourg Poland Trinidad and Tobago
Bangladesh The Czech Republic Iran Mexico Romania Tunisia
Belarus Ecuador Ireland Morocco Senegal Turkey
Belgium Egypt Italy Moldovia The Slovak Republic The Ukraine
Bosnia-Herzegovina Estonia Jamaica Mongolia Spain United Kingdom
Bulgaria Ethiopia Japan Netherlands Sri Lanka Uzbekistan
Cameroon Finland Kazakhstan Norway Suriname Yugoslavia
Canada France Korea Oman Sweden

Nationals of qualifying countries may apply for an E1 visa in order to develop and direct import/export of goods or services between their own country and the U.S. They may also apply for E1 visas for key managerial and specialist employees. Unlike the L1 visa, there is no requirement for such employees to have worked for the trader for any particular period of time.

E1 visa registration applications center on the volume of trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. The prospective treaty trader must demonstrate that:
  • There will be a substantial number of trade transactions between the U.S. and the treaty country
  • There will be a substantial dollar value to the trade between the U.S. and the treaty country
  • The majority of international trade transactions undertaken by the applicant (not including transactions within the treaty country or within the U.S.) will be between the U.S. and the treaty country
  • The majority of the dollar value of trade will be between the U.S. and the treaty country
  • The trader (or his/her employee seeking E1 visa) has sufficient business acumen and experience to develop and direct the trade
  • The trader and any other E1 staff are able and willing to leave the U.S. upon termination of their E1 status
  • The trader has a past history of conducting trade between the U.S. and the treaty country
Do I Qualify for E2 Visa?
E2 visas may only be applied for by people or companies from the following countries:

Argentina China (ROC) Georgia Kyrgyzstan Pakistan Switzerland
Armenia Colombia Germany Latvia Panama Thailand
Australia Congo Grenada Liberia Philippines Togo
Austria Costa Rica Honduras Luxembourg Poland Trinidad and Tobago
Bangladesh The Czech Republic Iran Mexico Romania Tunisia
Belarus Ecuador Ireland Morocco Senegal Turkey
Belgium Egypt Italy Moldovia The Slovak Republic The Ukraine
Bosnia-Herzegovina Estonia Jamaica Mongolia Spain United Kingdom
Bulgaria Ethiopia Japan Netherlands Sri Lanka Uzbekistan
Cameroon Finland Kazakhstan Norway Suriname Yugoslavia
Canada France Korea Oman Sweden


Un-ratified but signed treaties exist with: Albania, Azerbaijan, Haiti, Jordan, Nicaragua, and Russia.


E2 visa registration applications should demonstrate that:

  1. There has been and will be a substantial capital investment in the U.S. There is no specific cash threshold defined, but $40,000 is probably an absolute minimum, and any investment below $100,000 would need a very strong case to support it.
  2. Risk capital has been committed: the investment must entail some risk to the investor (it may not be all in the form of unguaranteed credit). At a minimum, there must be a long-term lease of an office in the U.S.
  3. The investor will control his/her investment. In this respect, control is considered to entail owning over 50% of the U.S. enterprise.
  4. The cash invested is not marginal when compared to the total investment. In general, unless it is common to the industry to have higher amounts of 'leveraging' (such as in the property industry), 51% of the investment should be in the form of cash equity. Where debt is secured against other assets of the investor, it is considered to be 'at risk', and may be considered as part of the equity invested.
  5. The enterprise is (or will be) active. In order to be 'directing and developing' their investment, the investor will require an enterprise that has an active management.
  6. U.S. workers are (or will be) employed. The treaties envisage more than just creating a job for the principal investor, but there is no requirement to employ a particular number of U.S. citizens. Obviously, employment of large numbers of U.S. citizens would be viewed very favorably.
  7. The enterprise, or its principal investor, has a past history of successful trading.
  8. The 'investor' should have sufficient acumen to direct and develop the investment enterprise.
  9. The principal investor and any other E2 staff are able and willing to leave the U.S. upon termination of their E2 status.
Which Employees Qualify for E Visas?
E1 and E2 Employees
Once the principal applicant has obtained registration as a Treaty Investor or Trader, it is a relatively straightforward task to obtain E visas for qualifying employees. Obtaining the registration usually takes 4 to 6 weeks, and obtaining subsequent employee visas usually takes 10 to 15 working days.

Two types of employee qualify for E visas:

Executives and Managers
As a requirement, executives and managers should be going to develop and direct the trade or investment of the principal investor/trader in the U.S. Such personnel should be able to demonstrate their executive or managerial pedigree, though there is no requirement that they have worked for the principal trader or investor for at least one year, as there is with the L1 visa. Generally a resume and supporting letter from the principal is all the evidence required.

Specialist or Essential Skilled Workers
It is more difficult to obtain visas for this type of employee. One must demonstrate that:
  1. A U.S. resident worker could not fill the position
  2. The employment of the treaty national is necessary for the running of the principal trader or investor's business in the U.S.
  3. U.S. workers will be trained to replace the treaty national (details of the proposed training must be given)
  4. The investor will control his/her investment. In this respect, control is considered to entail owning over 50% of the U.S. enterprise
If the above criteria are met then an E-visa can be obtained. However, this type of visa is considerably difficult to renew than an Executive/Managerial E visa.

Note that a 'visa issuance fee' is often required in addition to the usual visa application fee for E visas. This usually amounts to $100-200. Also E visa employees must be of the same nationality as the principal investor or trader.

Dependents of E visa workers are also issued E visas. However, these are not authorized for employment, but may engage in study.
Treaty Visa Application Process Flowchart
1. You complete our online appraisal form

2. SunbeltNE considers the application. If your company, the position and the candidate are eligible for registration as an E1 Treaty Trader or E2 Treaty Investor, we will e-mail you:

a. A formal instruction form to return

b. Details of any additional data required, and confirmation of the documents needed


3. You post documents to SunbeltNE at:
800 West Cummings Park, Suite 2000,
Woburn, MA 01801,U.S.A.


4. SunbeltNE compiles your application and submits it to the treaty visa section at the appropriate U.S. consulate; processing takes 4-6 weeks

5. After registration as a Treaty Trader or Investor, visas can be obtained for principal applicants (if they are a person rather than a company), employees and dependants in 10 to 15 working days. You provide us with relevant information and we prepare and submit the application to the treaty visa section
FAQs
Q: Can I gain E status as a self-employed professional?
A: No. This type of visa is not for a self-employed professional. The principal applicant should be going to the U.S. to 'develop and direct' his/her trade or investment, not to be a factor of production or trade in his/her own right. Thus accountants, IT consultants, doctors, lawyers, etc. cannot obtain E status to practice their profession in the U.S.

Q: How long can I stay in the U.S. in E status?
A: Indefinitely, provided the level of international trade or the value of your investment in the U.S. remains sufficient to justify your being there. Registration is initially valid for between two and five years, but can be renewed any number of times.

Q: Why isn't my country eligible for E status?
A: The treaties which give rise to eligibility for E status are generally on a reciprocal basis, i.e. they will also entitle U.S. citizens and companies to obtain similar immigration rights in the other treaty country. Nations with restrictive inward investment policies or currency controls are unlikely to have such a treaty with the United States. Further, most recent treaties entered into by the United States with, say, the former Communist countries tend to be Bilateral Investment Treaties, conferring only E2 eligibility on nationals of the other contracting state. Note also that existing treaties may be suspended if the United States' relationship with the other treaty signatory deteriorates significantly or that country is subject to international sanctions.

Q: What is the minimum amount of trade or investment needed to qualify?
A: There is no set minimum level of investment required, though the lower the amount of trade or investment the less likely it is that the application will succeed. The amount necessary will also depend on the type of business or trade engaged in.

Q: What are the alternatives if my employees or I do not qualify for E status?
A: In case you do not qualify for E status, the L1 intra-company transfer visa is the most obvious choice, though the H1B specialty occupation visa is also a possibility. In addition, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor is an option which eventually leads to U.S. permanent residency. However, this visa is extremely difficult and time-consuming to obtain.

Q: Can E visa dependants work?
A: E dependants can now obtain a general work authorization. This work authorization must be applied for separately, though.

DISCLAIMER: The above-mentioned details are for information purpose and cannot be considered as legal advice. They are subject to change or differ as per the changes in Law. SNE does not recommend you to consider this information as a professional advice. For detailed and professional advice you should consult our brokers at 781-932-7355 or visit us at any of our offices at Woburn, Worcester, Stoughton or Boston.
 
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