Treaty Visas (E1 & E2)

Over the years the United States has signed treaties with most of the other countries in the world, in particular treaties of ‘Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation’. These treaties are designed to promote trade and investment between the U.S.A. and the other contracting state, thereby encouraging good relations and peace. More recently the U.S.A. has entered into a number of Bilateral Investment Treaties, mainly with former communist states, designed to promote investment but not generally conferring 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 USA in order to develop and direct their investment in and/or trade with the USA. Such visas are called E-visas, and come in two types:

The E1 Treaty Trader:

Nationals of qualifying Treaty countries who undertake a significant amount of international trade with the United States my qualify for this type of visa. 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 USA). There is no set minimum level of trade which is considered sufficient, but obviously 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 (or his/her employees) 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.