Nalini S. Mahadevan, JD MBA

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E Investor / Trader Visas

Citizens of some countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation may apply for an E1 or E2 visa. They must be coming to the United States to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the United States and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. For a list of Treaty Countries, see below.

  • 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. 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.
  • 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 United States.
  • 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.

Applicants for visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged.

During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer.

Each applicant for a visitor visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below.

  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156,
  • Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application, Form DS-156E,
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph.
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157 completed for all male nonimmigrant visa applicants between the ages of 16 and 45, regardless of nationality and regardless of where they apply.
  • Visa Fees
  • The application should also establish that it 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. The exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly by applicant.

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, may receive derivative E visas in order to accompany the principal alien. 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 United States.

Holders of E visas may reside in the United States as long as they continue to maintain their status with the enterprise.

Nalini can help you assemble an application for submission at the consulate. Contact Nalini at nsm@mlolaw.us