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Treaty Traders and Investor E-1 and E-2 Visas

U.S. Work Visas for Treaty Traders and Investors E-1 and E-2

Though many in the world are familiar with trade agreements such as NAFTA, not everyone realizes that the United States historically has established treaties with a long list of countries in order to engage in trade and promote commerce. If someone would like to enter the United States because of one of these trade treaties, they will have to apply for a non-immigrant visa under the appropriate categories. Contact us today at (403) 452-9515 Ext. 100 or 1-800-932-1190 or email us directly.

The E-1 and E-2 visas are also described as the Trader (E-1) and Investor (E-2) visas.

Treaty Trader and Treaty Investors appear quite similar at first glance. For example, the U.S. State Department provides examples of the types of enterprises that are accessed by those with the E visas:

  • international banking
  • insurance
  • transportation
  • tourism
  • communications

Generally, those granted E visas will be entering the country in order to engage in "substantial" trade that is principally between the treaty country and the U.S. or entering in order to begin building and directing a firm in which substantial capital is invested. Trade has been defined as the international exchange of goods, services and tech.

Where they differ substantially between E-1 and E-2 is in the type of work done.

The E-1 requirements are:

  • Ownership or title of the items must pass from one party to the other
  • Be from a treaty country (the list of which is available at the State Department web page for treaty information)
  • As this is a "trading" treaty visa, your firm must have the nationality of the treaty country (i.e. 50% of the enterprise must be in the hands of people of the treaty country's nationality)
  • The trade (international) has to be substantial
  • The E-1 visa applicant must be an essential employee at a supervisory or executive level or they must have specialized skills essential to operations.

The E-2 requirements are for investors and are similar, and include:

  • The visa holder must have citizenship in the treaty country
  • Half the business must be owned by persons of the treaty country's nationality
  • The investment (international) has to be substantial, committed and irrevocable
  • Investment must be in a real enterprise, and a "paper" organization will disqualify a visa approval
  • The investing must generate substantial economic impact to the United States
  • The investor must have control of the funds and the funds must be at risk
  • The visa applicant must be heading to the U.S. to direct or develop the company. If not the principal investor, the applicant must be seen as an essential (highly specialized, executive or specialized capacity) employee

We strongly recommended that anyone hoping to travel to the U.S. via an E-1 or E-2 visa, should speak with an immigration expert ahead of time and work with them to obtain the proper travel documents and classifications.

Contact us today at (403) 452-9515 Ext. 100 or 1-800-932-1190 or email us directly.

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I have had the pleasure of working with Evelyn Ackah on various immigration, LMIA, permanent residency and border issues for the past seven years. Evelyn and her team are the ultimate resources for any employer seeking to navigate the ever changing legal climate in a timely and professional manner. Evelyn’s wealth of knowledge, experience and industry connections coupled with her ability to simplify complex legal processes have made her my ‘go-to’ resource for all issues pertaining to business immigration.

– Eileen Marley, Human Resources Business Partner - Corporate and Concord

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