When a citizen of a foreign country wishes to enter the United States, they must first obtain a visa. The visa you obtain will depend on your purpose in the country. If you plan to enter the United States to engage in trade or investment activities, you will need either an E-1 or E-2 visa. Dealing with the United States immigration process is easier with the guidance of an attorney. The immigration department at The Gonzalez Law Group has extensive knowledge of the country’s immigration laws. They will make sure all the necessary paperwork is filed and support you from beginning to end.
Applying for a visa comes with many questions that The Gonzalez Law Group would be glad to answer. Call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form to schedule a free case consultation. The Gonzalez Law Group has over 70 years of collective experience assisting clients with immigration issues across Harris County.
- What is a Treaty Trader & Investor Visa?
- Qualifications for a Treaty Trader Visa
- Qualifications for Treaty Investor Visa
- Families of E-1/E-2 Visa Holders
- Additional Resources
Treaty trader (E-1) and treaty investor (E-2) visas are intended for individuals, their families and their employees to enter the United States to pursue investment and trade opportunities under the treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation (FCN).
Only individuals from certain countries are eligible for either visa. Under the FCN, the United States recognizes over 50 countries for trade opportunities and 80 countries for investment opportunities. A complete list of eligible countries can be found in the resource section of this page.
Unlike other visas, those seeking an E-1 or E-2 may self-petition for entry. Petitioners are not required to have a United States sponsor, nor a foreign employer seeking to establish a presence in the United States. This makes both visas a great opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs wishing to expand into the United States.
For every visa, certain qualifications need to be met when you apply to enter the United States. When applying for an E-1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are a citizen of a treaty country.
- You must own at least 50% of the enterprise you plan to bring to the US.
- The enterprise has substantial trade.
- More than 50% of the international trade must be with the U.S.
You are also required to be an essential employee of the enterprise. This can include an executive or supervisory position or possess specialized skills that are essential to the operation of the company. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers will not qualify for the visa.
According to section 214.2(e)(10) of the Council of Foreign Relations, substantial trade is a continuous flow of sizable international trade over time. There are no minimum requirements for the monetary value of each transaction, but it’s an important factor in determining eligibility for the visa.
If you are granted an E-1 visa, you can stay in the United States for up to two years. Request for an extension of stay can be granted in two-year increments. You are not limited on the number of extensions under the visa but must intend to depart the United States when your status is terminated or expires.
You will need an E-2 visa if you plan to enter the United States to invest a substantial amount of capital in American business. For starters, you must be from one of the 80 countries the US recognizes for investment opportunities. Other qualifications for an E-2 visa include:
- You must own at least 50% of the business
- The investment in an enterprise must be substantial enough to ensure a successful operation
- The investment must be a real operating business
- The enterprise must generate significantly more than what is needed to support a living, or it has a significant economic impact in the US.
- You control the funds and the investments must be at risk in the commercial sense
- You are coming to the US to direct and develop the business.
As with an E-1 visa, if you are not an investor, you must be considered an essential employee to the business to qualify for an E-2 visa. You are also granted an initial stay of two years and there is no limit to the number of extensions under the visa.
One of the biggest worries about applying for an E-1 or E-2 visa is whether family members can accompany you into the United States under the same visa. Both visas allow spouses and unmarried children under 21 to accompany you into the US.
The eligible family members can petition as dependents of an E-1 or E-2 visa. If approved, they will normally be granted the same period of stay. If the family is already in the United States and they wish to change the status or extend their stay as a dependent, they can do so by filing the proper forms and paying the necessary fees.
Treaty Countries | US Department of State – Follow this link to view a complete list of countries eligible for E-1 and E-2 visas in the United States. You can see which countries qualify for which visa and learn more about the treaties that make the visa possible. The list can be found on the website for the US Department of State.
Treaty Trader & Investor Visas | US Department of State – Visit the official website of the US Department of State to learn more about E-1 and E-2 visas. You can also find out how to apply for the visas, how to extend your stay in the United States and how to change your status.
Contact a Harris County Immigration Lawyer
There is too much room for error in the United States immigration process. A simple mistake can prolong the process and prevent you from gaining entry into the US. If you are seeking an E-1 or E-2 visa, you should contact the immigration department at The Gonzalez Law Group. As immigrants ourselves, we understand how daunting the process can be. Our firm vows to be with you every step of the way. Not only will we advise you during the visa process, but also help you with immigration issues that pop up along the way. Our immigration department serves clients in communities across Harris County including Houston, Pearland, Webster, Channel View, and many others. Call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form to schedule a free consultation.