E-1 and E-2 visas are available to citizens of foreign countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation, or a bilateral investment treaty providing for nonimmigrant entries, with the United States. The E-1 (“Treaty Trader”) visa is specifically designed for alien business owners, business managers, and employees who are required to stay in the U.S. for prolonged periods of time to oversee or work for an enterprise that is engaged in trade between the U.S. and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for the E-1 designation. The E-2 (“Treaty Investors”) visa is available to an alien who is a citizen or national of a treaty country and who wishes to enter the U.S. solely to develop and direct the operation of an enterprise in which he or she has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. Specific criteria must be met to qualify for either visa.
E-1 and E-2 visas are based on different types of treaties. Depending on the country of origin, a beneficiary may be able to apply for both visas. Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) allow for E-2 Treaty Investor status only. Free Trade Agreements (including NAFTA and Fast Track) allow for both E-1 and E-2 visas.
A beneficiary from Canada or Mexico would be eligible for E-1 and E-2 visas under NAFTA. Beneficiaries from other countries, such as Egypt or Tunisia, would qualify for an E-2 visa because the treaty that exists bilateral. See below for qualifying countries listed by visa.
Both E-1 and E-2 visa holders are initially allowed a maximum stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay can be filed and may be granted for additional periods of up to two years. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted, as long as the alien maintains the intention to depart the U.S. when their status expires or is terminated.
There are three primary requirements for E-1 and E-2 visas:
- A trade treaty must exist between the United States and the foreign country that grants E status;
- Majority ownership or control of the investing or trading company must be held by nationals of the treaty country;
- Each employee or principal of the company seeking E status must be a citizen of the treaty country
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa:
|Africa:||Ethiopia, Liberia, Togo|
|Asia:||Republic of China (Taiwan), Japan, South Korea , the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand|
|Central America:||Costa Rica, Honduras|
|Europe:||Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom|
|The Middle East:||Brunei Darussalam; Iran, Israel, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan, Turkey|
|North America:||Canada, Mexico|
|South America:||Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Suriname|
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa:
|Africa:||Cameroon, Congo ( cloth )and the Congo (Jin), Liberia, Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Togo, and Tunisia|
|Asia:||Bangladesh, Republic of China (Taiwan), Japan, SouthKorea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, The Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand|
|Central America:||Honduras, and Costa Rica, and Panama|
|Europe:||Albania Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Estonia|
|The Middle East:||Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan, Turkey|
|North America:||Canada, Mexico|
|South America:||Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Suriname|
|The Caribbean||Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago|
Source: US Dept of State Treaty Countries