E Visa

Investor Visa

The E-1 and E-2 Investor Visas are appealing options for foreign business persons, investors, managers, and employees who wish to stay in the United States for extended periods of time to oversee: 1) an enterprise that is engaged in trade between the United States and a foreign country; or 2) a major investment in the United States.

Who is Qualified?

The E visa isn’t for just anyone who has a trade or investment. This visa class is exclusively for what the USCIS terms “treaty traders and investors”. This means that all applicants must be nationals of a country that holds a treaty of trade and commerce with the United States.

If you’re wondering if your country is a treaty country, you can look for it on the comprehensive list provided by the Department of State.

The regulations state that you must be a national of one of these countries, but you do not necessarily need to be currently living there. If you are unsure whether or not you qualify under this requirement, speak with your E1 or E2 visa attorney.

Treaty Trader (E-1) Visa

Foreign trader/investor applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a treaty trader (E-1) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether a treaty trader applicant qualifies for a visa.

  • The applicant must be a national of a treaty country.
  • The trading firm for which the applicant is 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 the applicant’s nationality.
  • Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. The title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other.
  • The applicant 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.

Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa

Treaty investor applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a treaty investor (E-2) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether a treaty investor applicant qualifies for a visa.

  • The investor, 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 U.S.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Applying and Required Documentation

Applications for E-1 and E-2 visas are generally submitted at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

Each applicant for a treaty trader (E-1) visa must submit these forms and documentation, as explained below:

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.
  • Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application, Form DS-156E, completed and signed.
  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person must complete a Form DS-160 application.
  • One (1) 2×2 photograph.

Each applicant for a treaty investor (E-2) visa must submit these forms and documentation, as explained below:

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.
  • Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application, Form DS-156E, completed and signed, if you are an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee.
  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person must complete a Form DS-160 application.
  • One (1) 2×2 photograph.

Additional documentation

An applicant for a Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa must first establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law, and complies with the many requirements for the E visa classification. The consular officer may provide the applicant with special forms for this purpose.

The applicant can expect the consular officer to request additional documentation, to make a determination about eligibility for a treaty trader or treaty investor visa. It is impossible to specify the exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly from one applicant to the other.

Family Members and Employees

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, may receive derivative E visas in order to accompany the principal visa holder. The spouse of an E visa holder may apply to DHS for employment authorization. Dependent children of an E visa holder are not authorized to work in the U.S.

The E visa regulations also allow employees to accompany you under the same visa provided that they meet the definition of an employee according to the state they will be living in during their stay. Depending on your situation, there may be other requirements surrounding your employee’s entry. Work with your investor visa attorney to make sure that your employee is eligible.

How Much Will My Visa Cost?

The total cost and fees if your investor visa depends on whether you are currently inside the U.S. or outside. For those who are already working in the U.S. under a different visa status, you can simply file an I-129 and have your status adjusted as soon as your petition is approved.

However, if you are currently outside the U.S., you will need to go through consular processing. This involves making an appointment with the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country to schedule an interview with a consular officer. This will also require you to complete a DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application.

You can also choose to have your petition expedited through premium processing, which will cost an additional fee.

Here is the breakdown of the fees:

  • I-129 basic filing fee: $460
  • Premium processing fee: $1,225
  • DS-160 fee: $205

An E2 visa applicant will need to consider these costs on top of the appropriate investment amount. Speak with your E2 visa attorney to learn how much the investor visa will cost in its entirety.

What is the E1/E2 Processing Time?

Fortunately, the investor visas have relatively short processing times. Your I-129 petition should take about six months to process, though this depends heavily on the caseload of the USCIS service center that processes your petition.

As stated above, you can expedite this six-month processing time by opting for the premium processing service. This optional feature shortens your visa processing time to 15 calendar days. If the USCIS fails to meet this deadline, you will be refunded your premium processing fee.

If you are going through consular processing, then your processing time will depend on how busy your home country’s U.S. consulate or embassy is. You will need to make an appointment for your interview and then wait until that date, which can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Can I Get an Extension?

Once your E visa has been granted, you will be able to stay in the U.S. for an initial period of two years. While this may seem short compared to other nonimmigrant visas, the E visa allows you to apply for an unlimited number of extensions. The USCIS website even states that E2 visa holders that travel abroad are typically given an automatic two-year extension when they return. If this is the case, you would not need to file a new I-129 petition.

How Our Investor Visa Attorneys Can Help

The Immigration Attorneys at the SGM Law Group will prepare and file the necessary applications and supporting documentation on your behalf. If you would like to get in touch with one of our investor visa attorneys, you can fill out the contact form on our website or call us at 877-811-3541. We charge a flat fee for E1 and E2 investor visa cases.

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