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US E Visas For Investors & Traders

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

Table of Contents

What are the US E Visas?

The E visas offer flexible routes for international entrepreneurs, investors and traders to pursue business opportunities in the US. They are available to nationals of Treaty countries to either trade (E-1 visa) with or invest (E-2 visa) substantially in US businesses.

However, the eligibility requirements are strict and the application process can quickly become challenging, demanding extensive supporting documentation to evidence that both the visa applicant and the company are eligible.

In this guide, we explain the key features of the US E visas.


E-1 visa

E-1 visas are nonimmigrant trader visas for individuals looking to conduct substantial trade in the US.

Both owners and essential employees of a company may apply for an E-1 visa providing they meet the relevant criteria.

An owner must own at least 50% of the business and be a national of the treaty trader country. You must be able to demonstrate that you are conducting substantial trade in the US that amounts to at least 50% of the overall trading of the business. The business owner will need to be overseeing operations.

An employee will need to be taking an executive/supervisory role within the company and have the relevant skills and qualifications for the job. They will need to be an essential part of the business. 


E-1 visa application process

The business owner will need to apply online to the E-Visa unit by filling out the form DS-160 to register the company.

An account will need to be created via the Visa Appointment website and the MRV application fee will need to be paid. You will also need to send the E-visa unit your passport via courier service.

Once all relevant documents have been sent and you have provided a email for correspondence, the E-visa unit will send you a receipt email.

Once the application is being processed, you may receive a request for additional documents.

When the review is complete you or your legal representative will be notified and provided with a list of any additional documents that are required. You will then be given a list of available appointments and expected to make a date for your interview within a 90 day period.

Employees will need to create an account on the visa appointment website and pay the MRV fee when they make their appointment. Employees will need to take all relevant forms and supporting documentation to the interview.

Section A:
The application covering letter will describe the enterprise and beneficiaries. The E-1 visa requirements should be addressed including that the requisite treaty exists. You will also need to state your intention to leave the US upon completion on your E-1 visa commitments.

If the applicant is an employee they will need to prove that they are to take an executive/supervisory position or have skills that are essential to the operation of the business within the US.

Section B:
A copy of the confirmation sheet for the DS-160 and the MRV fee payment are required with the application.

If the investor is an employee a letter should be included that describes their job in detail. Giving the company, job title, salary, allowances, benefits etc, details of qualification specific to the job and the company’s contact details.

If you have a legal representative, include a signed letter of agreement between you both that includes contact e-mails and phone numbers.

Section C:
Color photocopies of the biometric data page and any US visas will be required for all applicants, plus any copies of entry/exit stamps, extensions etc that are on your passport.

Each applicant will need to provide evidence of their ongoing residency status in the UK, this will include any current mortgage or lease agreements for their main UK residence and most recent pay slip.

You will also need to include a CV, copies of any relevant education certificates and a signed statement of intent to depart the US once E status is terminated.

Section D:
Articles of Incorporation, Organization or similar documents for US business, share certificates, operating agreements and documents that prove ownership.

The owners of the ultimate parent company will also need to provide color photocopies of the bio data pages of their passports.

US-based subsidiary/affiliate businesses will need incorporation and ownership documents. Foreign businesses based in the UK will need a copy of the latest Companies House AR01 Report.

Large companies with multiple owners or subsidiaries will also need to provide an organization chart detailing the ownership structure and all legal evidence of the chain of ownership.

A public company with multiple shareholders (all less than 50%) will require a signed affidavit stating they are trading on the London stock exchange exclusively including the most recent trading information.

Section E:
Every qualifying transaction of international trade between the US and the treaty country should be provided on a detailed spreadsheet along with all copies of invoices, bills, or shipping invoices.

US entities require signed and dated copies of the most recent US federal tax return and UK entities require their annual report. 

More about the E-1 visa >


E-2 visa

The Treaty investor, E-2 visa, is designed for individuals to invest substantial amounts in the US and create jobs for US citizens.

You will need to be a citizen/permanent resident of the treaty country and be investing a substantial amount into the US. The substantial amount is relative to the venture you are investing in.

As the investor, you will need to prove that your sole purpose for entering the US is to develop/run the enterprise. To prove this you are required to have a minimum of 50% invested in the business or be in an executive/managerial role.


E-2 visa application process

As with the E-1 visa, owners and essential employees may apply for an E-2 visa.

Section A:
A cover letter is required as with the E-1 visa. In this letter you will need to demonstrate that you have either already invested or are in the process of investing a substantial amount into a real and fully operating commercial entity that is not marginal, thereby with the sole purpose of earning a living.

That you are in a position to direct and develop the enterprise or if an employee that you will take an executive/supervisory level position or have skills that are essential to the firms operation. In all cases you will need to demonstrate your intention to leave the US once the E-2 status terminates.

Sections B through to D
These sections have the same requirements as the E-1 visa application, above.

Section E:
Details of your investment including a detailed breakdown or spreadsheet of all funds invested so far in the US venture including evidence of your investment. This evidence may be signed business premise lease, equipment purchase receipts, intellectual property or other intangibles and any other funds spent to acquire and set up the venture.

Should you be acquiring an existing business or purchasing a franchise, you will need to provide any relevant documentation to show your purchase or intention to, such as purchase and franchise agreements.

You will also be required to provide evidence of the original source of the funding for the US venture. This could be via sale of property, inheritance, loans etc. You will also need to prove that the funds have been transferred to the US and have come from a foreign based parent or affiliate company.

Section F:
In this section it is required to demonstrate that your business in real and operating. You should include any have relevant licenses, agreements, contracts etc, any confirmation of ongoing and future work, and marketing and promotional materials.
Affiliate or subsidiary companies will need to provide financial statements, annual reports etc to demonstrate they are actively trading.

Tab G:
This section is to prove that the business is not a marginal enterprise. An already established business should provide signed dated copies of the US federal tax returns for the last 3 years, profit and loss statements and all W-2, 1099s and/or the previous two tax year payroll invoices.

For start-up businesses, a comprehensive business plan will be required, along with a detailed 5 year profit and loss forecast and a breakdown of all start-up costs.

More about the E-2 visa >


E visa renewals and permanent residency

If you plan to remain in the US under the same E visa, you will need to apply for a renewal before your visa expires. This will require a new petition to be made, demonstrating your continued eligibility.

While there are no restrictions on the number of times you can apply to renew your E visa, you will not be able to change your status from an E visa to US permanent residence. E visas only grant holders temporary residency status and are not intended in themselves to offer a path to a Green Card. We can advise if you are an E visa holder exploring options to remain in the US indefinitely.


E visas and dependents

Another benefit of the US E visas is that they allow the primary visa holder to be accompanied by their spouse or dependent children under the age of 21 under the derivative E-1 or E-2 visas.


Need assistance?

The process of applying for an E visa is demanding on applicants. As specialist US immigration attorneys, we are on hand to advise and guide you through the process, from assessing eligibility to determining investment amount, building a robust application and supporting with the interview stage.

The information and documentation required for your application will be substantial. Incorrect or inaccurate information may lead to your visa being delayed or refused, potentially resulting in loss of investments and business opportunities, and other related financial implications.

For advice from US E visa experts, contact us.


Need assistance?

Can I get an eVisa for USA?

The US eVisa system is called ESTA. ESTA allows visa-free travel to certain qualifying visitors.


What is the e type visa for USA?

The US E category of visas comprises the E-1 visa for international traders, the E-2 visa for investors and entrepreneurs, and the E-3 visa for Australian nationals.


Do British citizens need visa for the USA?

The kind of permission you need as a British citizen will depend on a number of factors, including your reason for travel. If you intend to visit the US for leisure or for business-related activities, you may be eligible to apply for visa-free travel through ESTA. If you intend to work in the USA, you will need to apply for an appropriate work visa, such as the L-1 visa if you are transferring to the US while working for a non-US employer.

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 (AILA) and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with both US and UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

Nita successfully acts for corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, and athletes from across the globe, providing expert guidance on all aspects of US visa and nationality applications, and talent mobility to the USA.

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

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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.