Overview

Treaty Trader visas (E-1) and Treaty Investor visas (E-2) are nonimmigrant visas for citizens of countries which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation (9 FAM 402.9-10).  The applicant must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country (E-1); or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital (E-2).

The Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor visas were established to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the United States and other treaty countries. They were not intended to serve as a means for foreigners to retire or merely reside in the United States.  U.S. law (see paragraph 101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) explicitly states that E-1 visa holders must enter “solely to carry on substantial trade” and E-2 holders “solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise” in which he or she has invested. Moreover, these visas are nonimmigrant visas and thus temporary. Treaty trader/investor visas can be renewed or extended only if the investment or trade continues to meet all applicable requirements of U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Persons wishing to remain indefinitely in the United States should apply for the appropriate immigrant visa.

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa Example

A UK based shoe design and manufacturing company has been trading its goods to the United States for the last several years. Over 50% of their international trade takes place exclusively between the United States and the United Kingdom. Over the last year their trade has grown significantly and now they wish to move sales staff permanently to the United States to help increase their trade. The UK shoe business may benefit from an E-1 treaty trader visa.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visas Example

A successful British investor and restaurateur recently purchased a 75% stake in a restaurant located in Los Angeles for $500,000. The restaurant operates at a profit and employs over 40 staff, most of whom are American citizens. If all the conditions for the visa are met, the investor could obtain an E-2 treaty investor visa to oversee the restaurant in the United States. In addition the investor is able to send over the well qualified head chef to the United States to work in the restaurant.