Treaty Trader/Investor Visas

Not long ago a good friend asked me about the immigration process for people who have money to invest in the United States, and/or who are directing an investment. There are E visas available for people with capital to invest in the United States.

However, a mandatory prerequisite to an E visa is a treaty between the United States for trade or commerce. Only citizens or nationals of certain countries are eligible for this type of visa. The list of countries varies depending on whether the visa will be for an E-1 visa or an E-2 visa. The E-1 visa is for an individual who is doing substantial trade with the United States. The E-2 visa is for an investor who is directing an investment. The E-2 visa is also the accompanying visa that is granted to the worker’s spouses and children under 21 years old. Both types of E visas are issued for one year when the business enterprise is less than one year old. The visas will be extended indefinitely for five-year increments after the initial issuance.

The E-1 Visa is for individuals who have a company or business with which the volume of trade between the United States is 50 percent or more in purchase and sales.

Currently the Treaty Trader (E-1) countries are as follows: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China, (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France (includes Martinique, Guadalupe, French Guiana and Reunion), Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea (South), Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands (includes Aruba and Netherlands Antilles), Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom and Yugoslavia.

The E-2 Visa is issued to individuals who invest in the United States. The investment should be in a functioning business. It is not available for solely investing in real estate because investment in real estate does not generally require that a person operate the business. It is recommended that if there is a business operating outside the United States, the foreign company should continue operating in order for the individual to later immigrate to the United States under a multinational executive visa (EB-1), employment-based residence.

Currently the Investor (E-2) countries are as follows: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea (South) Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Yugoslavia.

The E-3 Visa – Specialty Occupation – Australian Aliens

This type of visa is new and was created pursuant to the Australian Free Trade Agreement. The final rule was published in September 2005. The E-3 classification applies to nationals of Australia who are coming to the United solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The E-3 classification also applies to the principal beneficiary’s spouses and children.

Generally, a specialty occupation is one that cannot be performed without a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent) in a specific field of study or a narrow range of fields of study. The requirements for E-3s with respect to the education of the beneficiary and the job duties to be performed mirror the H-1 requirements.

No petition is required to be filed for an E-3 visa. The application is made directly at the consulate, similar to other nonimmigrant classifications such as the B-1/B-2 (Visitors for Business/Pleasure) or F-1 (studying) classifications. However, a Labor Condition Application that reflects the job offer at the appropriate prevailing wage rate is required as part of the E-3 application.

The term for admission for E-3 beneficiaries is the same as for E-1 s and E-2s, in that the initial period of admission is two years. E-3s will receive two-year extensions indefinitely so long as you continue to qualify for the E-3 classification.

Spouses of E-3 principal beneficiaries are not required to be Australian nationals and are eligible to apply for work authorization in the United States. Such spousal employment may be in a position other than a specialty occupation.