The E visa category includes treaty traders and investors who come to the United States under a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the country of which the treaty trader or investor is a citizen or national. This category also includes Australian specialty occupation workers. To see the list of the treaty countries follow the link https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/fees/treaty.html

Who is eligible?

Before entering the United States, treaty traders or investors and Australian specialty occupation workers must apply and receive an E-1, E-2, E-3 visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy overseas. However, a U.S. company may also request a change of status to E-1, E-2, or E-3 for a nonimmigrant that is already in the United States. USCIS processes change of status and extensions of stay requests for nonimmigrants whose companies have filed such petitions.

  • Treaty traders (E-1) carry on substantial trade in goods, including but not limited to services and technology, principally between the United States and the foreign country of which they are citizens or nationals.
  • Treaty investors (E-2) direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested, or are actively investing, a substantial amount of money.
  • Australian specialty occupation workers (E-3) perform services in a specialty occupation.

See U.S. Department of State’s Treaty Countries for a current list of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

General eligibility for E-1 classification:

To qualify for E-1 classification, the general requirements for a treaty trader are:

  • You are a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
  • You carry on substantial trade; and
  • You carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.

Note: Substantial trade generally refers to the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time.

Period of Stay

Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years.  Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each.  There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 non-immigrant may be granted.  All E-1 non-immigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

An E-1 non-immigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.  It is generally not necessary to file a new Form I-129 with USCIS in this situation.

General eligibility for E-2 classification:

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.
  • You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense.
  • It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
  • The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
  • The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable (loans to a business will not work). It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.
  • The investor, a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have the citizenship of a treaty country.

Period of Stay

Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years.  Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each.  There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted.  All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

An E-2 non-immigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.  It is generally not necessary to file a new Form I-129 with USCIS in this situation

Note: Please note that there is a different classification for E-2 CNMI Investors.

General eligibility for E-3 classification:

To qualify for E-3 classification, the general requirements for a specialty occupation professional from Australia are:

  • You are a national of Australia;
  • You have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
  • You possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials; and
  • You will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation.

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 alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country);
  • You meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law; and
  • You are either engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

Note: Only a few non-immigrant classifications allow you to relatively quickly obtain permission to work in this country through the US Consulates abroad without an employer having first filed a petition on your behalf with the USCIS. Such classifications include the non-immigrant E-1, E-2, and E-3.

Family of E Treaty Traders, Investors and Employees

Treaty traders, investors and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.  Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader, investor or employee.  Spouses of E workers may apply for work authorization.  If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E spouse may work.

If you are considering filing E-1, E-2 or E-3 visas, set up a consultation with us. Call our office at 206.605.0550, email counsel@stelmakhlaw.com or fill out our contact form.