The E-1 and E-2 visas are categorized as treaty visas. The goal of treaty visas is to encourage trade between the United States and the treaty country. The E-1 visa is primarily granted to employees of enterprises, whereas the E-2 visa is granted to the investors of those enterprises.
These categories have several advantages. First, it is the only visa which allows a foreign national to be self-employed in the U.S. Moreover, E visas are issued up to 5 years and can be renewed and extended in five year increments as long as the qualifying activity continues. The principal applicant’s spouse and children of the investor will be admitted in the same category and eligible for employment authorization during the entire time of the E visa. Other advantages include the direct filing with the consular post and you do not need the approval of the USCIS; the ability to remain in the U.S. indefinitely; prior work experience or advanced degree is not required; and there are no statutory limitations to the number of E visas which can be issued.
The aim of the employee, or treaty trader, planning to enter the U.S. under the E-1 visa is to maintain trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. In addition, the treaty trader must be a national of that foreign treaty country. There are several requirements to this trade: there must be a traceable exchange between the US and the treaty country; the trade must be international and involve commodities such as goods, services and money. This trade must already exist between countries with ratified trade treaties with the U.S. A minimum of fifty percent of the international trade conducted by a trader must be between the U.S. and that treaty country. Trade must be substantial, meaning there must be an ongoing flow of transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement of the volume or value of individual transactions; however, larger and valued transactions will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome to the case. The derived income of trade should support the trader and his or her family. The employee may hold managerial or supervisory positions within the enterprise, or he or she may possess certain qualifications essential to the business. These qualifications may include expertise, particular skills or in-depth experience. The owner(s) of the enterprise must also be a national of the foreign state and own at least fifty percent of the company.
In order to qualify for an E-2 visa, the foreign investor or enterprise must have invested or must be actively in the process of investing in a U.S. enterprise. The investment of capital must be placed at risk in a commercial enterprise with the expectation of making a profit. You are required not only to have possession of the investment but also control of it. Most importantly, the investment must be irrevocably committed to the U.S. enterprise and subject to partial or total loss if the investment does not succeed. The capital must be your unsecured personal business capital or capital secured by personal assets. Thus, uncommitted funds in a bank account are not sufficient. However, placing funds in escrow pending approval of an E visa with legal mechanisms that irrevocably commit funds but also protect the investor if the application is denied is permissible.
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