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E Treaty Trader & Investor Visas

The E visa category is especially useful for business owners, managers and employees who need to remain in the U.S. for extended periods of time in order to oversee or work in an enterprise engaged in trade between the U.S. and a foreign country or that represents a major investment in the U.S. in the other country, or who conduct trade between the two countries. The visa is meant for business oriented individuals who want to come to the U.S. in order to direct and develop the operations of a business in which they have invested substantial funds or in which sizable trade takes place.

It gives effect to those treaties between the U.S. and foreign countries that provide for reciprocal benefits to nationals of each country who invest in the other country or who conduct trade between the two countries.

The E type visas are highly unique. Even though they are a non-immigrant type of visa, they are nevertheless viewed as the closest thing within the non-immigrant classification to the immigrant (permanent resident) visa. There is no requirement that the intended stay in the U.S. should be temporary, which means that the holder of an E visa may stay in the U.S. for an indefinite period of time so long as he or she continues to maintain the business enterprise for which the visa was secured. Although an initial period of stay of one year is granted to persons coming to the U.S. in the E category, this period can be extended almost indefinitely as long as the applicant affirms that he or she will leave the U.S. when the period of authorized stay, including unlimited extensions, ends.

The E visa category can be used for purposes of conducting trade between the U.S. and the country of majority ownership of the company (E-1), or overseeing investment in the U.S (E-2). It can be used by many different types of companies, from one owned by a single investor to a large multinational corporation.

The following requirements are necessary for the E visa to be granted-

1. A treaty must exist between the U.S. and the foreign country.

2. Majority ownership or control of the investing or trading company must be held by nationals of the foreign country.

3, The foreign country's citizenship must be held by each employee or principal of the company who seeks E status under the treaty.

The E type visas are highly unique. Even though they are a non-immigrant type of visa, they are nevertheless viewed as the closest thing within the non-immigrant classification to the immigrant (permanent resident) visa. There is no requirement that the intended stay in the U.S. should be temporary, which means that the holder of an E visa may stay in the U.S. for an indefinite period of time so long as he or she continues to maintain the business enterprise for which the visa was secured. Although an initial period of stay of one year is granted to persons coming to the U.S. in the E category, this period can be extended almost indefinitely as long as the applicant affirms that he or she will leave the U.S. when the period of authorized stay, including unlimited extensions, ends.

If any of the above elements are missing, the E visa will not be issued.

Treaties providing for trade and investment (E-1 and E-2) are in effect with the following countries - Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Taiwan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy,Japan, Korea, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, Bolivia, Brunei, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Egypt, Grenada, Morocco, Panama, Senegal, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Zaire.

In addition, the trade the applicant seeks to carry on must be on a "substantial" scale and international in scope, principally between the U.S. and the applicant's foreign country. More than 50% of the trade involved must take place between the applicant's country and the U.S.

In general, whether the applicant's trade or investment qualifies as substantial depends on the type of business, the nature of the business operation required and whether the investment has been made or is in the process of being made. The central question to be determined by the examining consular or immigration official in making such determination, is essentially whether or not the type of investment offered by the applicant in relation to the particular line of business seems to be "substantial" within the context of the particular business in relation to the kind of funds which would be ordinarily necessary to effectively operate in that type of business.

Thus, the applicant must invest a certain amount of money in a new business venture which would give full-time employment to at least 10 U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Depending on the location, the investor is required to invest an amount between $500,000.00 and $3 million. The lower amount is reserved for investors establishing a business in so-called "targeted" areas where the unemployment rate is at least one-and-one-half times the national average or other defined rural areas. If investors decide to establish their businesses in areas where unemployment is particularly low, they could be required to come up with as much as $3 million.

The money must come from outside the U.S., ie. would-be investors cannot look for a loan from a bank or other lending institution in the U.S. In addition, the applicant must provide concrete proof of the investment, including such items as transfers of money to the U.S. from abroad and future projections for the business.

Therefore, the investor applicant must show that he is entering the US for the sole purpose of investing a substantial amount of capital, or that he has invested already; that the business enterprise in which he has made, or intends to make such investment is actual, and is a genuine bona-fide business either already existing or in the process of formation, and not merely a fictitious paper operation.

Under certain unique situations, an applicant may apply for treaty trader or investor visa from the U.S. For example, an applicant may qualify who is already in the U.S.on a business (B) visa, and suddenly discovers a business opportunity in which he wishes to make a substantial investment, but finds that upon making such investment his presence is needed to manage the enterprise. In such a situation, the applicant will be applying, in effect, like one applying for adjustment of status.