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.
The E-1 visa
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. At least 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.
The E-2 visa
The investor must make or be in the process of making a substantial investment in a business. This substantial investment involves the irrevocable commitment to the enterprise, putting his or her personal assets at risk; therefore, the investor is making an active investment, placing his own capital at risk by producing services or commodities. In addition, the investor must also make a significant contribution to the market value of the business in proportion to the funds invested. In order to actively be in the process of making this investment, the investor cannot merely show prospective intent, but must be close to starting the operation of the enterprise. The investor must be able to develop and direct the enterprise, controlling more than fifty percent of the businesses interest. The business must be more than marginal, meaning the investor cannot invest merely to earn a living. This can be avoided if the business earns more than enough to support his family or if the investment increases job opportunities.
The duration of stay for E-1 and E-2 visas is initially two years at admission, which can then be extended for an additional two years at a time without limit. The spouse and children (under 21) of the trader or investor will be admitted in the same category as the principle visa holder, regardless of nationality.