For individuals seeking to invest in or engage in international trade with the United States, there are various visa options available.
Two popular visa categories specifically tailored for treaty traders and treaty investors are the E-1 and E-2 visas.
While both visas enable foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. based on treaty agreements, there are significant differences between them.
E-2 Visa: Treaty Investor Visa
The E-2 visa, also known as the Treaty Investor Visa, is primarily designed for individuals who wish to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested a substantial amount of capital. Also, the E-2 can be used to transfer executives, managers, or essentially skilled employees.
Key features of the E-2 visa include:
Eligible Treaty Countries: The E-2 visa is available only to individuals from countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. The list of eligible countries is subject to change.
Investment Requirement: E-2 visa applicants must demonstrate that they have made - or that they are in the process of making - a substantial investment in a U.S. business. The investment should be significant enough to ensure the success and viability of the enterprise. There is no minimum investment amount specified, but it should be proportionate to the type and size of the business.
Ownership and Control: The investor must have a controlling interest in the U.S. business. They should own at least 50% of the enterprise, or possess operational control through managerial positions or other means.
Renewal: The E-2 visa has the possibility of renewals as long as the investment and the qualifying business continue to meet the visa requirements.
E-1 Visa: Treaty Trader Visa
The E-1 visa, also known as the Treaty Trader Visa, is specifically designed for individuals engaged in substantial international trade between the U.S. and their home country. The E-1 can also be used to transfer executives, managers, or essentially skilled employees to the United States.
Key features of the E-1 visa include:
Eligible Treaty Countries: Similar to the E-2 visa, the E-1 visa is only available to individuals from countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.
Substantial Trade Requirement: E-1 visa applicants must demonstrate that there is a substantial volume of trade occurring between the U.S. and their home country. This involves continuous and substantial trade of goods, services, or technology. Under the E visa provisions and as per the Department of State, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism and communications are some examples of types of services that constitute trade.
Principal Trade: The applicant must demonstrate that more than 50% of the volume of international trade of the individual treaty trader is between the United States and the individual’s treaty country.
Renewal: The E-1 visa has the possibility of extensions as long as the trade between the U.S. and the home country continues to meet the visa requirements.
Purpose: The E-2 visa is designed for individuals seeking to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested a substantial amount of capital, while the E-1 visa is intended for individuals engaged in substantial international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country.
Investment vs. Trade: The E-2 visa focuses on investment in a U.S. business, whereas the E-1 visa emphasizes the substantial trade of goods, services, or technology between the U.S. and the treaty country.
- Investment Amount: While there is no specified minimum investment amount for the E-2 visa, the investment must be sufficient for the business to operate satisfactorily. On the other hand, the E-1 visa does NOT require an investment of capital. However it requires consistent and substantial trade between the U.S. and the treaty country.
While the E-2 and E-1 visa categories have notable differences, there is a crucial similarity in their application requirements – both visa petitions require the submission of a comprehensive visa business plan or immigration business plan. A visa business plan serves as a fundamental component of the application process for both visas. It outlines the details of the proposed investment or trade activities, provides a comprehensive analysis of the business, and demonstrates how the investment or trade will contribute to the U.S. economy. The visa business plan showcases the viability, feasibility, and potential success of the venture, helping immigration authorities evaluate the merits of the application. Whether it's demonstrating the investment's financial projections and job creation potential for the E-2 visa or outlining the trade volume and the impact on employment for the E-1 visa, a well-crafted visa business plan plays a vital role in supporting the case for both visa categories.
This blog serves an informational purpose only, so make sure to contact a qualified immigration attorney to determine which of these visas is the best suited for your particular situation. And upon determining if you will be applying for an E-2, E-1, L1-A, EB-5, or EB-2/NIW visa, give us a call. Our detailed and comprehensive business plans can make a huge difference in your visa application and be your attorney’s secret weapon for success.
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Mr. Scanu received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from the University of Florida and an MBA in Management from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Mr. Scanu was also a Visiting Scholar at Michigan State University under the prestigious H. Humphrey Fellowship (Fulbright program) with a focus on Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, and high-growth enterprises.
At present, Mr. Scanu is the managing partner and CEO at Visa Business Plans, a Miami-based boutique consulting firm providing attorneys and investors with business planning services in the areas of U.S. and Canadian immigration, SBA loans, and others.