Overview of E-1, E-2, and E-3 Visas

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Home » Overview of E-1, E-2, and E-3 Visas

United States law provides special immigration options to foreign professionals who wish to conduct trade in the United States or invest in an enterprise in the country. Given the legal complexity of these visa categories, navigating the eligibility criteria and application process for the E-1 and E-2 visas can be difficult. It is for this reason that many startups and established companies seek assistance from an experienced E-2 visa lawyer to ensure that all potential pitfalls are avoided. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting Alcorn Immigration Law at +1(855) 546-0015 today. 

What Are the Different Types of Visas?

The E-1 treaty trader visa and the E-2 treaty investor visa are two immigration options that facilitate travel to the United States for a specific business purpose. Both of these visas are nonimmigrant visas, meaning they do not grant permanent residency to visa holders. Rather, they are designed to allow for temporary travel, typically no longer than 2 years at a time. 

As mentioned, the E-1 and E-2 visas were created to fulfill a specific purpose, which can be summarized as: 

  • E-1 Treaty Trader Visa: carry out substantial trade between the United States and a treaty country.
  • E-2 Treaty Investor Visa: develop or oversee the operations of an entity in which the foreign national has invested or is in the process of investing a significant amount of capital. 

These visa categories were created to help facilitate economic and commercial interaction between the United States and other nations. As such, it is important to note that E-1 and E-2 visa holders must only carry out the designated trading or invest while in the country. If these individuals wish to remain in the United States on a permanent basis, they must apply for an immigrant visa or Green Card. An experienced E-2 visa lawyer from Alcorn Immigration Law can provide further insight regarding how to change your colleague or employee’s status to permanently live and work in the United States. 

What Is the Process of Acquiring an E-1 or E-2 Visa?

The process of acquiring an E-1 or E-2 visa will depend on whether your company is located inside the United States or abroad. If you are outside of the United States, the Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is needed to apply for the E-1 and E-2 visa. This application will require information regarding the employee’s or colleague’s travel itinerary, the dates of their last visits to the United States, professional background, and other relevant information. If applying for the Treaty Investor (E-2) visa, Form DS-160 is sufficient. If applying for the E-1 Treaty Trader visa, on the other hand, the sponsoring company must complete and submit the DS-156E as well. 

If your colleague or employee is already based in the United States at the time of application, the application process is slightly different. Instead, it is necessary to submit Form I-129, which is used to request a change in immigration status. Once all necessary paperwork is submitted with the appropriate agency, the applicant will typically be contacted to schedule an interview. Once the visa is approved, the visa issuance fee must be paid, and the applicant will wait to acquire their passport and newly minted visa. 

Who Is Eligible?

There are strict eligibility requirements that dictate who may qualify for the E-1 and E-2 visas. To be eligible for the E-1 visa, the following must be true: 

  • As a startup or company, at least 50% of your business must be owned by nationals of a country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. The Department of State has a full list of treaty countries on its website. 
  • Your company is conducting substantial trade, which is defined as activity that is sufficient to maintain a continuous flow between the United States and the treaty country. 
  • The visa applicant’s expertise is vital to the success and efficient operation of your business’s trading enterprise. 

The eligibility requirements set forth for treaty investors are slightly different. The criteria for this visa category include: 

  • The investor is from a nation with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.
  • They have invested in, or are currently in the process of investing in, a significant amount of capital in a real, active, and operating United States enterprise. To learn more about how a “significant amount of capital” is legally defined, consider speaking with an experienced E-2 visa attorney
  • The investor wishes to enter the United States for the sole purpose of developing or overseeing the investment enterprise, as indicated by at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or the possession of operational control of the enterprise.

Which Visa Is Right for Me?

Determining the nature of the proposed work in the United States is key to understanding which visa is right for you or your colleague or employee. The E-1 visa is used for individuals engaging in trade, which is the international exchange of goods, services, and/or technology. Examples of such enterprises may include banking, insurance, transportation, and tourism. 

The E-2 visa, on the other hand, is designed to stimulate investment in American enterprises. The enterprise must be real and operating, and speculative investments do not count under this visa category. Moreover, the investment must generate substantially more income than is necessary to support the applicant and their family. An experienced E-2 visa lawyer can help you decide which visa is right for you depending on the unique circumstances of your business.

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What Privileges Are Afforded With the E-1 Visa?

There are several privileges and benefits that E-1 visa holders enjoy, including the ability to: 

  • Freely travel in and out of the United States.
  • Remain in the United States indefinitely, so long as the visa holder’s work persists.
  • Ability to bring the immediate family to the United States.

Can An E-1 Visa Holder Bring Their Family to the United States?

Yes, an E-1 visa holder can bring their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States. With these visas, children are allowed to attend school and the visa holder’s spouse may work legally in the United States if they obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document). An E-2 visa lawyer at Alcorn Immigration Law can work with the applicant’s family to complete this application thoroughly and accurately. 

How to Choose the Right E-2 Visa Lawyer for Your Needs

Choosing the right immigration attorney for your needs is crucial. Your legal counsel will likely be handling all aspects of your application, meaning they have the unique ability to make or break the success of your case. Typically, foreign professionals who wish to pursue trading or investing in the United States do not have years to waste waiting for approval of their E-1 or E-2 visa. 

As such, it is important to carefully consider your choice of legal counsel and ensure that you feel comfortable and confident in their ability to achieve success. When vetting potential attorneys, it can be helpful to consider: 

  • What is the attorney’s approval rating?
  • How quickly will they work to secure your visa? 
  • Are they communicative and friendly? 
  • How do they plan to mitigate risk during the process?
  • Does their fee structure align with your needs?

How an Immigration Attorney from Alcorn Immigration Law Can Help You

Above all, we understand and appreciate the value of global mobility and international economic relations. For this reason, our team of E-2 visa lawyers works tirelessly to facilitate our clients’ ability to trade and invest in the United States. Connect with Alcorn Immigration Law at +1(855) 546-0015 today to get in touch regarding your immigration needs.

Visas for Traders and Investors from Treaty Countries

Alcorn Immigration Law provides immigration legal services to individuals and companies for their employees. Individuals from specific countries with which the United States has treaties of trade and commerce can apply for special visas designed to increase trade and investment. Companies may also petition for these visas for their essential employees as well.

The U.S. Department of State maintains a current list of treaty countries. Foreign nationals from these treaty countries may be eligible for one of the following visas:

Foreign nationals from countries without an investment trade treaty with the United States may still qualify for an E-2 Visa for Treaty Investors. Click Path to E-2 Visa for Treaty Investors for more details.