American E Visa: Doing Business in the USA
American E Visa for Business in the USA
The American E visa category comprises three visas:
- The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa
- The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
- The E-3 Australian Speciality Occupation Visa
In this article we focus on the primary US business visas, the E-1 and E-2 visa. Both of these American E visas are initially granted for a period of 2 years. Holders can apply to renew their status where they remain eligible, and there is no limit to how many times the visa can be extended.
Under the E visa category, holders can also apply to bring their dependents to the US (spouses and unmarried children under 21).
Treaty traders are those who come to the US under a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the country of which the visa applicant is a citizen or national.
To be eligible for the E-1 visa, applicants must demonstrate ‘substantial trade’ between the United States and the foreign country of which they are citizens or nationals. Trade can include goods, services and technology.
E-1 visas can be granted to business owners, who must be nationals of a Treaty nation, or to employees who hold an executive, managerial or supervisory role requiring specialist skills.
The E-1 Treaty Trader visa requirements are that:
- Applicants (business owners and employees) are a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
- The business carries out substantial trade with the US – looking at volume of transactions rather than value
- The majority of the business’s international trade is between the United States and the relevant treaty country
Treaty investors (E-2) direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested, or are actively investing, a substantial amount of money.
To qualify for E-2 classification, the general requirements for a treaty investor are:
- You are a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
- You have invested, or are actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States; and
- You are seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise.
E-1 or E-2 classification as an employee of a treaty trader or treaty investor:
To qualify for E-1 or E-2 classification as an employee of a treaty trader or treaty investor, the general requirements are:
- You are the same nationality as the principal employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)
- You meet the definition of “employee”
- You are either engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or have special qualifications
E Company Registration
For both the E-1 and E-2 visas, the non-US enterprise must also register for E visa status in order for owners and employees to be eligible.
Applying for an American E Visa
How to Apply From Outside the United States
The first step is to complete the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application form DS-160.
Once you have completed your online application process, print off the confirmation sheet to provide at your interview.
Visit the Visa Appointment Service website to create an account, pay the machine-readable visa (MRV) application fee, and arrange the return of your passport once you have attended your visa interview.
The next step is to gather and submit supporting documents electronically.
The documentation you submit will be critical in determining if your application will be granted.
You must meet the requirements in terms of the type of evidence you provide and the format you provide it in. Any errors or issues with your supporting documents are likely to result in delays or even refusal of your application. Take legal advice if you have any questions or concerns about the information you should be submitting.
E-1 visa supporting documentation
- Cover letter which describes your enterprise and proves your eligibility for the E-1 visa
- Forms, including the confirmation sheet from your DS-160 application form, parts 1, 2 and 3 of the DS-156E form, a copy of the MRV fee payment receipt.
- Applicant information
- Proof of ownership of the enterprise
E-2 visa supporting documentation
To create a business plan you will need to include sufficient and relevant information to satisfy the E-2 requirements. There is no formal or prescriptive format to creating a business plan, but you will need to ensure you cover detail such as financial, operational, personnel and marketing strategies.
American E Visa Interview
Once all of the above have been submitted, your case will be accepted for review and an email confirming receipt will be sent to you or your representative.
Your application will now be reviewed to ensure it is eligible for an E1 visa. The period of review is likely to take up to 30 days.
Once your case has been reviewed, either you or your representative will be informed. At this point, additional documents may be requested and you will be told of appointment availability at your local Embassy or Consulate. You must attend an interview within 90 days of this notification.
The purpose of the visa interview is to determine that you are who you claim to be and that you hold all the relevant skills to make your venture a success.
You will be questioned on the information provided at your interview and may face challenges regarding the content of your business plan. The consular officer will want to ascertain to what degree your business will be of economic benefit to the US.
You will also need to bring to passport style photographs of yourself. You will need your confirmation sheet of your completed DS-160 and a receipt for the fee. You should bring your I-797 approval notice and your appointment notification as well as any evidence to support your business plan such as bank statement, contracts, lease agreements etc.
You should also bring evidence that demonstrates your ties to your home country such as lease agreements, mortgage information etc that shows you are more likely to return home once your E2 visa business requirements have been fulfilled.
This list is by no means exhaustive, your legal advisor will be able to instruct you of any further supporting evidence you may need.
At your interview, the Consular officer will ordinarily give you an immediate answer on your application. If approved, your passport will be taken and your visa added. You will receive notification once your passport is ready for collection.
If your application is refused, you may want to explore your options to appeal.
How to apply for an E visa from within the United States
If you are currently in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, you may file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, to adjust to an E-1 or E-2 status. A qualifying employer may also file Form I-129 on your behalf as well if you are an employee of a trader or investor.
To begin the petition process to adjust your status, you or your employer must:
- Complete and sign Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
- Refer to Form I-129 instructions for further details.
- Include the appropriate filing fee with the petition (including the biometrics fee if applicable).
- Collect the necessary documents to show your eligibility.
Do you have a question about an American E visa? NNU can help!
With so much at stake when applying for your visa, it is critical to ensure your application sufficiently evidences your eligibility under the E category. As US immigration specialists, NNU can advise and guide you on American E visa applications. For help with your US visa application, contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.