USA and the UK
The E1 and E2 Visas
Both the E1 and E2 visas are ways that you can become able to conduct business. However, they are relevant for very different circumstances.
The E1 visa is for individuals and employees of businesses from a trade treaty country. It allows the holder to come to the USA to trade goods, services, or banking. Many non-physical services can be involved including tourism, technology, insurance, and journalism. The amount of trading that can happen is theoretically unlimited.
Meanwhile, the E2 visa has been created to allow citizens of over 30 nations to invest in the USA and start their own enterprises in the nation.
It is designed for people with access to significant amounts of capital so that they may start a business, office, or medical practice in the country.
You can use both visas to bring immediate family members with you for the duration of your stay. This includes your spouse (who may work) and unmarried children under 21.
Requirements for an E1 Visa
There are several requirements for the E1 Visa category which you must follow for your visa application to be improved. They include:
- 50% or more of the trade must happen between the USA and the treaty country.
- The visa holder needs to be making “substantial trade” in the USA.
- You must be a citizen of the treaty country.
- You must provide evidence you will return home after the visa period.
What is Substantial Trade?
“Substantial Trade” is a vague term, used to ensure a wide range of business activities fit into the requirements for an E-1 Visa. There are few restrictions on the kinds of goods and services that can be traded by the visa holder. There is also no minimum or maximum value that can be traded while on the visa.
However, the trade must be continuous and have numerous transactions over time. You cannot be in the US as a trader from one of the treaty countries if you are only conducting one transaction. It is important that you make sure your business can be continuous while in the US.
Requirements for an E2 Visa?
The E2 visa also has a significant amount of requirements in order for you to make a successful visa petition. However, they are appropriately tweaked to be about setting up a business rather than doing temporary trade. They include that you must:
- Have a minimum 50% stake in the business or an upper management position
- Be putting capital at risks
- Show the capital has been generated through legal means
- Show the business will provide for you and your family within five years of entering the US
- Ensure the business has its own premises and is not run out of your home
Despite the strict requirements, the E2 visa also gives you substantial freedom to run your business how you please. You can also use the visa to invest in a new business or one that is pre-existing.
Despite both visas requiring a stable trade treaty to be in place, they have different nations that are eligible for these visas. The E1 visa nations are called treaty trader countries. The E2 visa nations are called treaty investor countries.
What are the Treaty Trader Countries?
The nationalities eligible for this visa are known as Non-Immigrant Treaty Traders. This is the more restrictive of the two visas in terms of eligible nations. The countries are:
Having citizenship for any of these nations will make you eligible for an E1 visa.
What are the Treaty Investor Countries?
There are substantially more nations that are within the treaty trader category, far too many to list.
The US government is also in the process of adding more nations to the treaty investor countries. Jordan, Haiti, Azerbaijan, Albania, and Nicaragua have all signed trading treaties with the US, and the US government is yet to ratify these treaties, which would allow the nations to become treaty traders.
Russia has also signed an unratified trading treaty with the US. However, with the Russia-Ukraine war showing no signs of ending, it will be several years before this trading treaty is ratified, and Russians may come to the US to trade.
The E1 and E2 visas are both important diplomatic and financial connections between the US and the nations it has signed treaties with. However, there are also substantial differences.
- Length of Stay
- Job Creation
- Source of Goods and Finances
- Application Processes
- Grounds for Refusal
Length of Stay
The E1 visa has a limited length of stay. In most cases, there will be a limit on the initial stay time of two years. In some cases, you will be able to get an extension every two years, but only for as long as your business requires you to be in the USA.
Meanwhile, while the E2 visa also doesn’t allow you to access a Green Card, it is theoretically indefinite. You may extend your E2 visa so long as your business is still economically viable and stable. If your established enterprise is strong enough, it could allow you to remain in the USA as long as you want.
On an E1 visa, there is no pressure for you to provide for the US economy by creating jobs. All you need to do is make sure that at least 50% of your business activities are trade between your nation and the US. In a sense, the visa allows you to create a temporary job for yourself in the USA.
On an E2 visa, you must employ other people and create jobs within the economy. Your investment cannot just be a way for you to start a livelihood in the USA. In your application, you will need to show how your enterprise will provide jobs to Americans.
Source of Goods and Finances.
The E1 visa holder does not have to be the source of the goods, services, or finances that are being traded. They can be working on behalf of a corporate entity. This makes the E1 visa accessible to anybody who works for a business that trades in US markets.
The requirements are stricter if you want an E2 visa. This visa cannot be gained by investing someone else’s finances on their behalf. You must be investing your own finances. Therefore, this visa is only accessible to people with enough liquid assets to start a new business.
Both application processes come under the nonimmigrant visa category. Therefore, your application begins with the DS-160 application form, which will need to be submitted in person to a US consular officer. This form must be completed for everyone that is coming with you, including your family members.
Both visas will then require you to attend an interview at the same US consulate where you submitted your petition for a visa. However, the content of the interview will change depending on which visa you applied for.
For an E-1 Visa interview, you will need to describe the nature of your trade, prove that it will be continuous, and provide supporting documentation.
At the E-2 visa interview, you will need to have a more in-depth discussion with the consular officer. You will need to talk them through your business plan and respond to any questions they challenge you with. You will also need to prove that you have the means and experience to start your intended business.
Grounds for Refusal
The two visas also have similar but different grounds for refusal. You will need to thoroughly check all of these before you make your application to ensure you won’t have your visa denied.
Grounds for refusal of your E-1 visa application include:
- The trade or business doesn’t yet exist.
- The amount of trade will be too low.
- The trade is not primarily between the US and your home country.
The grounds for refusal for an E-2 visa include the following:
- The investment is not substantial in relation to the industry you are trying to enter.
- The venture won’t support you and your family.
- It is too easy to withdraw your investment, or there is little personal risk.
- You don’t own more than 50% of the enterprise.
- You will not have a supervisory or executive capacity.
If your visa is refused, it may be hard to appeal. Often, a letter of denial will explain that you cannot appeal the decision. If this isn’t the case, you will need to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and prove that the consulate made significant errors when processing your application. For example, if the consular officer has miscalculated the size of your investment. To make your appeal, you must submit Form-I290B within 30 days of your refusal.
Deciding which visa you need to conduct business in the US is only the first hurdle to overcome. Both the E-1 and E-2 visas have complicated application procedures, and failing to successfully apply for the visa could throw your business operations into chaos.
It is recommended to get professional assistance while making your application. IAS USA has a team of immigration advice specialists who can help you to make your application for this nonimmigrant visa. Call us at +1 844 290 6312 or contact us online to find out how we can help in your unique case.
Last modified on May 4th, 2023 at 10:45 am
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
With our untimed Advice Session, our professional immigration lawyers will review your case and provide you with comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.