E-1 Visas and E-2 Visas: Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors
- What are E-1 and E-2 Visas for Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors?
- Am I Eligible for an E-1 or E-2 Visa?
- How Do I Apply for an E-1 or E-2 Visa?
- Documents Required for a E-1 or E-2 Visa
- E-1 and E-2 Visa Fees
- Visa Ineligibility / Visa Waiver
- Bringing Family Members of Treaty Traders or Treaty Investors
- Time Period and Time Limits of E-1 and E-2 Visas
- Admission through a U.S. Port of Entry on an E-1 or E-2 Visa
- Staying Beyond My Authorized Stay in the US and Being Out of Status
- HELP! with an E-1 or E-2 Visa
What are E-1 and E-2 Visas for Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors?
These are two similar nonimmigrant visas for nationals of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. You must be coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade (which may include trade in services or technology) principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested, or are in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.
- You must be a national of a treaty country;
- The trading firm for which you are coming to the U.S. must have the nationality of the treaty country;
- The international trade must be "substantial" in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade;
- The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that more than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of your nationality;
- Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other; and
- You must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.
- The investor (you), either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country;
- The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise;
- The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment;
- The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States;
- The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed; and
- The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.
How Do I Apply for an E-1 or E-2 Visa?
Generally you should apply for the E-1 or E-2 Visa at the US Embassy or US Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. Although you may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the work visa outside your country of permanent residence.
As part of the E-1 or E-2 Visa application process, you must have an interview at the US Embassy consular section if you are from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by the US Embassy or US Consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment can vary, so apply for your E-1 or E-2 Visa early. Visa wait times for interview appointments, and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide, is available on our website at Visa Wait Times. Learn how to schedule an appointment for an interview, pay the application processing fee, review embassy specific instructions, and much more by visiting the US Embassy or US Consulate website where you will apply.
During the Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will quickly be taken. Some work visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the interview by a Consular Officer.
- Online Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application. Some US Embassies and US Consulates that have not converted to this new online process may require older nonimmigrant application forms. See Form DS-160 for more information.
- If you are a Treaty Trader (E-1) or an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee your employer will also need to complete the paper Form DS-156E until the new online Form DS-161 is released.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person must complete an application.
- One (1) 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Nonimmigrant Visa Photograph Requirements;
- As an applicant for a Treaty Trader (E-1) visa or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa, you must first establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law. The consular officer will provide you with special forms for this purpose. You may also be asked to provide evidence that your stay in the U.S. will be temporary. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since circumstances vary greatly.
- Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee. For current fees of State Department government services, see Fees for US Visa Services. You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
- Visa issuance fee. Additionally, if the E-1 or E-2 Visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee. See the US Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the amount is. If there is a fee for issuance for the Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor visa, it is equal as nearly as possible to the fee charged to United States citizens by the applicant's country of nationality.
Visa Ineligibility / Visa Waiver
There are categories of persons ineligible to receive visas under U.S. law. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. If you are found to be ineligible, the consular officer will advise you of any waivers.
Bringing Family Members of Treaty Traders or Treaty Investors
As a Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, may accompany you in derivative status. Derivative status means that their visas will be dependent on your nonimmigrant status. If you change your status, your family must change their status. If you lose your status, your family will also lose their status. Your spouse may apply for employment authorization (by filing USCIS Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization), but your dependent children are unable to accept employment in the United States.
Admission through a U.S. Port of Entry on an E-1 or E-2 Visa
You should be aware that a US Visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa is issued by a Department of State Consular Office abroad, but a separate U.S. agency, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has authority to deny admission at the port of entry. Also, the period for which you are authorized to remain in the U.S. is determined by the CBP, not the Department of State Consular Office. At the port of entry, a CBP official must authorize your admission to the U.S. At that time, the CBP official will provide you with a stamped I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card), which will include your admission number to the U.S. and which will note how long you are permitted to stay in the U.S. For more information, see:
- Inspection Process for U.S. Entry
- I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card)
- Length of Stay is Determined by My I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card) -- NOT My Visa
Upon arrival (at an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), you will be enrolled in the US-VISIT entry-exit program. In addition, some travelers will also need to register their entry into and their departure from the U.S. with the Special Registration program.
Staying Beyond My Authorized Stay in the US and Being Out of Status
You should carefully consider the dates of your authorized stay and make sure you are following the procedures under U.S. immigration laws. It is important that you depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the U.S. on any given trip, based on the specified end date on your I-94 Form (Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94 Card). Failure to depart the U.S. will cause you to be out-of-status.
- Staying beyond the period of time authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and being out-of-status in the U.S. is a violation of U.S. immigration law. You may become ineligible for a visa in the future for return travel to the United States.
- Staying unlawfully in the United States beyond the date Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authorized--even by one day--results in your visa automatically being voided. In this situation, you are required to reapply for a new nonimmigrant visa, generally in your country of nationality.
- For nonimmigrants in the U.S. who have an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record with the endorsement of Duration of Status or D/S, but who are no longer performing the same function in the U.S. that they were originally admitted to perform (e.g. you are no longer working for the same employer or you are no longer attending the same school), an official or an immigration judge may make a finding of a status violation, resulting in the termination of the period of authorized stay.
If you forget to turn in your I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, see How to Record Departure from the US After the Fact.
- Have a specific question? To help you find an answer quickly, we have placed "Ask a Visa & Immigration Lawyer" boxes on this page. Simply type a question in any of the boxes to receive a response online from a visa and immigration lawyer.
- For assistance in your country, contact the nearest U.S. Consulate.
- For inquiries on visa cases in progress overseas, contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case.
- For assistance within the U.S., contact the State Department's Visa Office at 202-663-1225. You may also email a general inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to indicate the general subject of your inquiry on the subject line (e.g., temporary religious worker visa), and do not expect an immediate reply. You may also write to:
- In the U.S., you may also contact your nearest USCIS District office or Sub Office or call the national USCIS toll-free information service at 1-800-375-5283.
- You may also want to seek the advice of an immigration attorney (this link will help you find the right lawyer for your case), or an immigrant assistance organization. A list of accredited organizations and individuals is maintained by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which also maintains a list of free legal service providers.
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520-0113