Immigration Services / E-1/E-2: Treaty Trader and Investor
Treaty Traders and Investors (E’s)
The E categories are designated for aliens engaged in international trade or investment between the United States (U.S.) and the aliens’ countries of nationality, provided the U.S. has an appropriate treaty relationship with the foreign country.
A treaty country is a foreign state with which a qualifying Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent exists with the U.S. A Treaty Country includes a foreign state that is accorded treaty visa privileges under section 101(a)(15)(E) of the INA by specific legislation. A listing of countries with whom the U.S. currently has treaties can be downloaded from the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (select 9 FAM 41.51 Exhibit 1 to obtain the correct list).
Note: There is no petitioning process for the E categories. E-nonimmigrant classification is granted through an application process. If outside of the U.S., the alien may apply for an E-1 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad. If the alien is inside the U.S., the Form I-129 and E supplement is used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. Applications for E-1 or E-2 status may be filed only at the Texas or California Service Centers. However, if an alien currently in E-1 or E-2 status is requesting a change of status to another nonimmigrant classification, the application for change of status must be mailed to one of the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the new requested classification.
For the alien to visit the U.S. temporarily for trading or investing purposes, the requirements outlined at 8CFR 214.2(e) must be met. A brief summary of the requirements for E-1’s and E-2’s follows.
Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of an E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrant will be admitted under same classification as the principal. The dependent spouse and child(ren) are not required to have the same nationality as the principal alien.
Effective January 16, 2002, spouses of E-1 treaty traders or E-2 treaty investors who have been admitted to the United States under sections 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act are authorized employment without restrictions. Further, an unmarried dependent son or daughter of an E nonimmigrant employee of the Taiwan Economic Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) is authorized employment without restriction. In order to obtain work authorization, the E nonimmigrant spouse must submit:
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to the Service Center with jurisdiction over the dependent spouse’s place of residence (concurrently filed applications with Form I-129 petitions for the principals may only be filed at the appropriate service center);
- a filing fee of $340;
- evidence of the E nonimmigrant principal’s current status;
- the dependent spouse’s and the principal’s Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Records as evidence of admission or change of status; and
- a copy of the Form I-797 approval notice for the E nonimmigrant principal’s petition, if available.
E-1 Treaty Trader
The E-1 classification is authorized for a national of a country with which the United States has a commercial treaty, who is coming to the U.S. solely to engage in trade of a substantial nature principally between the United States and the alien’s country of nationality. The trade involved must be international exchange (successfully negotiated contracts binding on all parties) of items of trade between the U.S. and a treaty country. Title to the trade item must pass from one treaty party to the other.
If the alien is inside the U.S., the I-129 is used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. This classification does not require a petition for employment if the alien is outside of the U.S. If outside of the U.S., the alien applies for an E-1 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad.
E-2 Treaty Investor
The E-2 classification is authorized for a national of a country with which the United States has a commercial treaty, who is coming to the United States solely to direct and develop the operations of an enterprise in which he or she has invested, or is actively involved in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.
If the alien is inside the U.S., the I-129 should be used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. This category does not require a petition for employment if the alien is outside of the U.S. In that case, the alien applies for this category on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad.
The investment involved must place lawfully acquired, owned, and controlled capital at commercial risk with a profit objective, and be subject to loss if the investment fails.