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DS-156E for E1 & E2 Visa Applications

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

Table of Contents

DS-156E for E1 & E2 Visa Applications

If you are looking to apply for a nonimmigrant visa to come to the United States under either the E-1 or E-2 classifications, you will need to know what forms to complete, which may include Form DS-156E.

The following practical guide provides a detailed breakdown of Form DS-156E for applicants, from what this form is used for and who needs to complete this to the next steps in the nonimmigrant application process for an E-1 or E-2 visa.


What is Form DS-156E?

Form DS-156E, together with Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, comprises the application for employees of Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) businesses.

Officially described as “Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Investor Application Use with Form DS-160/I-129”, this is a mandatory supplement form for foreigners seeking E-1 or E-2 visas for the United States that must be submitted, along with Form DS-160.

Form DS-156E is a 4-page form, of which the first page contains guidance on applying for an E-1 or E-2 visa. This should be read carefully before completing the form.


Who needs to complete Form DS-156E?

Form DS-156E must be completed by all primary applicants, except principal investors.

This means that if you are applying for an E-1 visa as a principal trader applicant, you will need to complete this form. Equally, if you are applying as an employee of either type of E-visa enterprise, you should use this form. However, this form is not required if you are applying as an E-2 investor applicant, rather than as an employee of an E-2 enterprise.

Any E-1 and E-2 derivatives also do not need to submit Form DS-156E, where the spouse and children under 21 of treaty traders, treaty investors or employees of E-enterprises may receive dependent E-visas to accompany or follow to join their partner or parent.

Form DS-156E is divided into three parts, the first relating to the profit of the business, the second relating to the staff and the third relating to the applicant. All first-time applicants seeking either treaty trader or treaty investor status must complete both Parts I and II of Form DS-156E, and all individual applicants must complete Part III of this form.


What information is needed for Form DS-156E?

When completing Form DS-156E, you must answer all relevant questions, entering “Not applicable” where appropriate. If an enterprise is not yet fully operational, estimates and projections should instead be made for potential income, job creation and volume of sales, etc, where you should use additional sheets of paper, as necessary, to complete responses.

Part I of Form DS-156E is to create a business profile for the treaty enterprise, while Part II is to build up a picture of the enterprise staff and Part III, a picture of the applicant.


  • The name of the US enterprise, business or company
  • The type of business enterprise, including a corporation, privately-owned, a branch/liaison office, joint venture, partnership, subsidiary or other
  • The address, telephone and fax number of headquarters, subsidiaries and branch offices of the US enterprise, specifying the type of office
  • The date (in the format mm-dd-yyyy) and place the business was either established or incorporated in the US
  • The nature of the business, including general trade, imports to USA, exports from USA, manufacturing, retail sales, services/technology or other
  • A full description of the services, production or other activity set out above
  • The name and address, telephone and fax number of any foreign parent business
  • The nationality of any foreign entity (such as a corporation or partnership, etc) or of any foreign individual owner of the US business, including the immigration status of any individual investor, and the name of each owner and percent of ownership
  • A summary of the most recent financial statement or auditor’s report, including total assets of the US business, the total liabilities, the owner’s equity, and the total annual operating income, both before and after tax
  • The amount of gross international trade of the US enterprise, broken down into dollar values, the number of transactions and the percent of total trade
  • The type of investment, including the total start up costs for the creation of a new business, the purchase price for the purchase of an existing business, or the fair market value of the business for the continuation of an existing business
  • The total investment from abroad made in the USA, including both initial and cumulative investment, broken down into cash, inventory, equipment, premises and other
  • The source of investment capital, such as personal funds, corporate funds, loans, stocks, debentures and bonds, etc.


  • The type of personnel in the United States categorised into those in managerial/executive positions, specialised/essential employees and all other employees, including nationals of the treaty country on either E, H and L visas, US citizens and legal permanent residents, as well as third-country nationals
  • A list of all personnel of the US business that hold executive, managerial and/or specialist positions by subsidiary/branch office, including their names, position, title and division, and indicating their nationality and nonimmigrant visa status or lawful permanent resident status, where applicable.


  • The full name of the applicant
  • The type of applicant, including principal owner/investor/trader, manager, supervisor, executive, specialist or other
  • A detailed description of their present position and duties
  • The name and address of the employer
  • The years present with the employer
  • The applicant’s highest level of education, including school, major/subject, degree and year
  • Other relevant experience and education
  • The applicant’s position in the United States, including a description of their duties, with the names and titles of all immediate subordinates
  • The applicant’s annual US salary and benefit package
  • The name of the person in the United States being replaced or, if not a replacement, whether this is an increase to staff or continuation of existing employment in the USA


A declaration at the end of Form DS-156E must also be signed, requiring the applicant to swear or affirm that all statements are true and complete to the best of their knowledge and belief. This must be signed and dated by a responsible officer, printing their name and position or office. The name, address, telephone and fax number must also be provided of the person who may be contacted about the E-1 or E-2 visa application.


Form DS-156E supporting documentation

In addition to the detailed information to be set out in Form DS-156E, you will also need to submit a number of documents in support of this form. These should be submitted in a binder, including a table of contents and tabs, where examples of supporting documentation to be attached to first-time applications could include:

  • evidence of possession and control of investment funds in the United States, such as bank records, financial statements, loans, savings and promissory notes, etc
  • evidence of remittance to the United States, such as bank drafts, transfers, exchange permits and receipts, etc
  • evidence of establishment of the business in the United States, such as articles of incorporation, partnership agreement, organisation and staffing charts, shares, titles, contracts, receipts, licenses and leases, etc
  • evidence of the nationality of the traders or investors, such as passports, articles of incorporation of parent company and stock exchange listings, etc
  • evidence of trade between the USA and the treaty country, such as invoices, customs clearances, bills of lading, warehouse receipts, shipping receipts, sales receipts and contracts, etc
  • evidence of investment from abroad made in the United States, such as titles, receipts, contracts, loans and bank statements, etc
  • evidence of substantiality, such as financial statements, audits, US corporate or business tax returns, etc
  • evidence that the enterprise is not marginal, such as payroll records, IRS Form 941, personal tax returns, or evidence of other personal assets and/or income
  • evidence that the business is a real, operating enterprise, such as annual reports, sales literature, catalogues, news articles and other appropriate evidence
    curriculum vitae of the prospective visa recipient (optional)

This list is not exhaustive. Further, not every type of document listed above will be applicable in each case, and specific instructions may also vary between different Embassies and Consulates. Applicants should refer to the relevant website for more details. Additional documentation may also be requested to help clarify aspects of the application, if required.


How much does it cost to file Form DS-156E?

There is no additional cost to file Form DS-156E, where this forms part of the application for an E-1 or E-2 visa. The cost to apply for an E-visa is $315.


How to file Form DS-156E

Form DS-156E must be submitted along with Form DS-160 when applying for an E-1 or E-2 visa with a US Embassy or Consulate, although applicants should always check the Embassy or Consulate instructions to ensure that they follow the correct procedure for their country.

In addition to the documentation requirements for an E-1 or E-2 visa, the procedural requirements can vary between different Embassies and Consulates. For example, some Embassies will only accept an electronic submission, rather than a paper submission. In other cases, employees of E-enterprises are not required to submit any documents in advance of their interview, but will be asked to attend in person with their documentation.


Next steps in the E2/E1 visa application process

Having submitted your paperwork, including Form DS-156E, you will need to wait for your paperwork to be reviewed. You will then need to schedule an in-person interview, where applicants must usually attend an interview within a strict timeframe. In the UK, for example, the current review time for each case is 60 working days, where the applicant will be required to attend their interview within 90 days on completion of their review.


E-1 and E-2 visa requirements?

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides nonimmigrant status for a national of any of the countries with which the USA maintains a qualifying treaty of commerce and navigation, and who is coming to the United States to either:

carry on substantial trade, including trade in both services or technology, principally between the USA and the treaty country, or
develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the treaty national has already invested, or is in the process of actively investing, a substantial amount of capital.

The requirements for an E-1 treaty trader visa can be broken down as follows:

  • the applicant must be a national of a qualifying treaty country
  • the trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the USA must also have the nationality of the qualifying treaty country
  • the international trade must be “substantial” in the sense that it is of a high enough quantum and continuity of trade
  • the trade must be principally between the USA and the treaty country, meaning that more than 50% of the international trade involved must be between the United States and country of the applicant’s nationality. Trade refers to the international exchange of either goods, services and technology, where the item of trade, and title of that item, must pass from one party to the other in exchange for consideration
  • the applicant must be employed in either a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess specialised skills that are essential to the enterprise’s successful and efficient operation, where ordinarily skilled or unskilled workers generally do not qualify.

The requirements for an E-2 treaty investor visa can be broken down as:

  • the investor, either real or corporate, must be a national of a qualifying treaty country
  • the investment must be substantial, where it must be sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage in investment necessary for a low-cost business enterprise will generally be higher than the percentage of investment needed for a high-cost enterprise
  • the investment must be in a genuine operating commercial enterprise, where speculative or idle investment will not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or any other similar security will not be considered an investment
  • the investment may not be marginal, where it must have the capacity to generate significantly more income than simply to provide a living for the investor and their family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the USA
  • the investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must also be at risk in the commercial sense, where loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise will not be considered to be at risk
  • the investor must be coming to the USA solely to develop and direct the commercial enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, they must be employed in either a supervisory, executive or specialised skills capacity, where ordinarily skilled and unskilled workers generally do not qualify.


Need assistance?

NNU Immigration are US immigration specialists with extensive expertise in E-2 and E-1 treaty investor and treaty trader visa applications. For guidance and advice from our US attorneys about any aspect of your E visa application, contact us.


DS-156E FAQs

What is the DS 156E?

Form DS-156E, with Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, comprises the application for an E-1 treaty trader or E-2 treaty investor nonimmigrant visa. E-visas are for treaty nationals looking to carry on substantial trade or run their own business.


How long does it take to get E2 visa in USA?

The processing time for an E2 visa can vary between US Embassies and Consulates, where it can take anything from about two weeks to four months for the paperwork to be reviewed. You must also schedule an in-person interview.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.


Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law, (The Legal 500, Who's Who Legal and AILA) and an experienced and trusted advisor to large multinational corporates through to SMEs. She provides strategic immigration advice and specialist application support to corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, artists, actors and athletes from across the globe to meet their US-bound talent mobility needs.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals.

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.​

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.

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For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.