inner page header image

E-1 and E-2 Visa Requirements for Entrepreneurs and Investors in a U.S. Enterprise

If you’re an entrepreneur or investor in a foreign country who wishes to do business in the U.S., you’ll need a treaty trader (E-1) or treaty investor (E2) visa. As an executive, supervisory employee, or essential component of the business’ operations, you may be qualified to obtain one of these visas. The information below will assist you in navigating the requirements for each of these visas, helping identify which option is right for you.

E-1 vs E-2 Visa Similarities

Both of these visas allow you to remain in the U.S. for two years, provided you maintain your status as an investor or treaty trader—for an E1 visa, you may apply for unlimited extensions of up to two years each. You will also be allowed to bring your spouse and any children under the age of 21. It should be noted, however, that you and your family will be barred from obtaining either of these visas if you have been convicted of a drug-related crime or if you have a serious contagious disease.

The actual application process for both E1 and E2 visas is also similar. In addition to the Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, you will need to complete the Treaty Trader/Investor Application, Form DS-156 E. Additionally, you will be expected to provide proof of your business or investment as well as proof of your intention to leave the U.S. once your visa expires.

E-1 vs E-2 Visa Requirements

The E-1 visa is for treaty traders, or people who will be working for a business that engages in or will engage in substantial trade between the U.S. and the investor’s country. The E-2 visa is for treaty investors, those who will invest a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business in which they own at least fifty percent. While some of the requirements for these visas overlap, there are some specific differences which differentiate the two.

In order to obtain an E-1 visa from the U.S. Department of State, the following are required to present to the consular officer as part of your application:

  • You must show that your nationality is among those countries with treaties with the U.S. to permit the E-1 visa;
  • Evidence that substantial trade is or will occur between your country and the U.S.;
  • Proof that there is a corporate relationship between the foreign and U.S. entity, where appropriate;
  • Basic information about the company and about the job that the E-1 visa holder will be employed in within the U.S.;
  • Biographical information for the applicant exhibiting that she or he is qualified for the position;
  • Basic biographical information for any family members who will be applied for as derivatives applicants;
  • Proof or explanation that the visa holder intends to depart the U.S. once the job assignment is completed.

In order to meet the U.S. Department of State’s E-2 visa requirements, the following must be presented to the consular office as part of your application:

  • The investor holds funds which are designated to be directed toward a U.S. enterprise involving some degree of business risk;
  • A business plan indicating that a commodity will be produced or a service will be offered by a bona fide U.S. enterprise, with the goal of producing a profit—the business can not be simply a shell company or involve a passive investment;
  • These funds must be controlled by and possessed by the applicant—meaning the applicant holds both the legal right to spend the funds and has direct access to the monies to permit him or her to do so;
  • The investment must be fully committed to the U.S. enterprise;
  • The investment amount must be “substantial,” typically involving at least $50,000, and a sufficient amount of money which a business expert would determine the business reasonably needs in order to have a chance of profitability (e.g., $100,000 may work for a small café but certainly will not work for an auto manufacturing plant).
  • The investment must be more than marginal, meaning it must potentially contribute to the U.S. economy beyond merely benefiting the visa holder and her family;

Countries that Allow for E-1 Trader and E-2 Investor Visas

The following countries have treaties with the U.S. allowing their nationals to petition for an E-2 visa:

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China and Taiwan
  • Colombia
  • Congo—Brazzaville
  • Congo—Kinshasa
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • Honduras
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Korea
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • South Korea
  • Latvia
  • Liberia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Senegal
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Yugoslavia

The following countries currently have treaties with the U.S. supportive of your filing for an E-1 visa:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Ethopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Honduras
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • South Korea
  • Latvia
  • Liberia
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Yugoslavia

While some of the requirements may seem difficult, an E-1 or E-2 visa lawyer can be a great resource for overcoming the many challenges of your application process. For more information and high-quality guidance, contact us for a free consultation.
free consult visa attorney

Practice Areas