Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors

At the Law Office of Matthew I. Hirsch, we have worked with entrepreneurs and investors to achieve their long- and short-term immigration goals. The E visa category is a non-immigrant i.e. temporary visa category, that can help individuals and companies who seek to invest in new or existing enterprises in the U.S. The E visa category depends on the existence of a Treaty of Trade and Commerce between the U.S. and the country of nationality for the individual or the enterprise. For a list of countries whose nationals can apply for E-1 or E-2 status, click here.

E-1: Treaty Trader

This category is reserved for individuals/companies who engage in international trade, specifically, who create a steady flow of goods and services between the U.S. and the “treaty country.” In general, to qualify for an E-1:

  • the alien must be a national of a treaty country;
  • the alien must engage in substantial trade with the U.S.;
  • the alien must be principally engaged in trade between the U.S. and the treaty country.

Employees of E-1 enterprises can also qualify for E-1 status. To qualify:

  • the alien must be of the same nationality as the alien employer;
  • the alien must meet the legal definitions of an employer;
  • the alien must be engaged in executive or supervisor duties, or must retain specific qualifications or special skills.

An alien can also qualify for an E-1 visa as the employee of a qualifying enterprise or organization. To be a qualifying organization, the enterprise must be at least 50% owned by persons with the nationality of the treaty country. In addition, the owners must be in treaty-trader status, or, if they are outside of the U.S., they must be classifiable as such.

E-2: Treaty Investor

This category is reserved for individuals/companies from a “treaty country” who make substantial investments into a new or existing U.S. enterprise. To qualify:

  • the alien must be a national of a treaty country;
  • the alien must have invested, or be in the process of investing a “substantial amount of capital” in a U.S. enterprise;
  • the alien must owning at least 50% of the enterprise or possesses operation control of the enterprise;
  • the alien must be seeking a U.S. visa to develop and direct this investment enterprise.

Please note: The investment enterprise cannot be marginal. In other words, the investment enterprise must possess the present or future potential to generate more than enough profit to provide for the living expenses of the treaty investor and his or her family. Notably, a new enterprise can still qualify even if it does not currently meet this requirement. However, in such cases, the enterprise must prove this capacity within five years of the granting of the E-2 visa.

Although not the same as a green card, both E-1 and E-2 visas can be renewed indefinitely, so long as the alien is engaged in the trading company or investment on which the original visa was based. In addition, the spouse and family members of E-1/E-2 visa holders can remain in the U.S. for the same period, and they can be authorized for employment.

The Law Office of Matthew I. Hirsch has the experience and the expertise to help you through the many business- and immigration-related details associated with the E-1/E-2 visa category. Please contact us with your questions or to discuss your eligibility as a “treaty-trader” or “treaty-investor.”