E Visas: E-1 and E-2 Status - Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor Visas
The E visa program offers foreign nationals the ability to acquire nonimmigrant status in the United States for purposes of carrying out trade or to invest in a business enterprise. The E visa program is one of a number of options available to entrepreneurs seeking to expand or develop business in the United States.
E Visas: General Requirements
E status may be conferred on a foreign national and any spouse and children of the foreign national for two purposes:
- E-1 Status - to solely to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or trade in technology, principally between the United States and the foreign state of which he is a national.
- E-2 Status - solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he has invested, or of an enterprise in which he is actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.
The E visa program exists as a result mutual investment treaties between the United States and other countries. Therefore, an alien must be a national of a country with the appropriate treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation, bilateral investment, or other arrangement with the United States. Nationals of the following countries are eligible for E visa status:
- E-1/E-2 Countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Yugoslavia
- E-1 Only: Brunei, Denmark, Greece and Israel
- E-2 Only: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Congo (Brazzarille), Congo (Kinshasa), Czech Rep., Ecuador, Egypt, Georgia, Grenada, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Panama, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and Ukraine
- Treaty Not in Effect: Belarus, El Salvador, Haiti, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Russia
(List may not be current)
In order for a new company to qualify its managers, executives, and employees for E status, the entity must be principally owned by nationals of treaty country. At least 50% of the company must be owned by nationals of the treaty country.
E status can be conferred onto any employees of the company so long as the employee is a national of the same treaty country. The employee positions qualified to obtain E status include executives, supervisors, and other persons essential to efficient operation of the enterprise.
E status is a nonimmigrant, or temporary, status. The duration for admission is generally two years and the status can be extended indefinitely.
E-1 Visas - Treaty Trader Status
The E-1 visa allows eligible foreign nationals to enter the United States in order to carry out substantial trade which is international in scope principally between U.S. and foreign state of the foreign national. Substantial trade requires that more than 50% occurs between the United States and the alien's treaty country. The substantiality is judged by the volume of trade, not the monetary value of the trade. Factors include the regularity and duration of trade. Trade can be in goods and services. This allows companies that provide services in accounting, information technology, and other related fields to benefit from the status.
E-2 Visas - Treaty Investor Status
The E-2 visa allows a foreign national entry in the United States to develop and direct operations of a bona fide enterprise in which the alien has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount.
There are few restrictions on the type of investment a foreign national can make. The business entity could be in any number of industries, including retail or professional services. The principal restriction is that the investment cannot be idle, speculative, or passive. Such investments would include real estate purchases with the sole intent of holding the property for appreciation. Another restriction is that the enterprise cannot be marginal - that is the business cannot generate merely enough for the E-2 holder and the family. The business must be able to employ United States workers.
Determining how much money constitutes a substantial investment varies. The current test for the substantiality of the investment is based on a proportionality rule. The test weighs the amount invested against the total value of the enterprise. Previously, a sliding scale test was used. The scale required an investment of 75% of businesses valued less than $500,000; 50% for businesses valued at between $500,000 and $3,000,000; and 30% for businesses valued at more than $3,000,000.
Consult with The Chander Law Firm Regarding Foreign Investment and Trade with the United States
3102 Maple Ave, Suite 450
Dallas, Texas 75201
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