Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors Visas

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Overview

Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas permit holders of E visas to reside in the United States to manage the trade or investments of a U.S. business (the "Enterprise") or, in certain cases, to provide essential skills to the Enterprise. Holders of E visas must intend to depart the United States upon the termination of their E status.

Treaty visas are authorized on the basis of treaties of commerce and navigation between the United States and certain other countries. Costa Rica is one of these countries. The Enterprise must be majority-owned, as well as developed and directed by nationals of the treaty country.

The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of treaty traders, treaty investors, or employees of Enterprises may also receive dependent E visas in order to accompany or follow to join their spouse or parent. They are not required to have the same nationality as the principal applicant to obtain an E visa.

E visas permit the investor/trader and his or her family to live in the United States during the period of stay authorized by DHS. These visas are nonimmigrant visas; consequently, you are allowed to live in the United States only so long as the conditions under which the visa was granted remain valid. Dependents are not authorized to work in the U.S. unless they receive explicit authorization to do so from DHS-USCIS in the United States. This authorization must be applied for after your arrival in the United States.

How to Apply for a Visa

The U.S. Embassy will only review the documents of applicants who have registered in our appointment system and paid the proper visa fee. Please click here, to register in our appointment system. For more information on visa fees, click here.

Please follow the steps below to make an appointment :

Step 1
Pay the visa application fee.

Step 2
Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.

Step 3
Schedule your appointment on this web page. You will need three pieces of information in order to schedule your appointment:

  • Your passport number
  • The "Payment Reference" appearing on your Citibank, Banco Nacional or PayPal receipt. (Click here if you need help finding this number.) If you paid with a credit card, use the email address that you entered at the time of payment.
  • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page

Step 4

By completing the registration data in the appointment system and complete the entry of the payment receipt, an automatic notification will be sent to the corresponding department at the consulate. The appointment will be authorized only when the user have submitted the relevant documents for review by the consular officer; shipping has to be by the user and it must do so immediately upon completion of the registration through the preferred courier service provider.

Step 5

Refer to below tables for additional required documents, and mail your application within one week to the U.S.Embassy Costa Rica via your preferred courier service provider.

Step 6
Visit the U.S. Embassy on the date and time of your visa interview. You will need to bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, and all current and old passports.

The Embassy cannot be held responsible for missed appointments. If you repeatedly miss your scheduled appointment, your documents will be sent back to you and you will have to reapply.

Children 13 years old and younger are not required to accompany their parents to the Embassy for an interview, but they must be physically present in Costa Rica on the date of their family's scheduled appointment.

All passports will be returned by Correos de Costa Rica after the visa interview and are generally received within five business days. Please schedule flight plans accordingly.

Application Documents for Treaty Trader (E-1) Visa

Applications must be submitted in a binder divided into sections clearly separated by lettered or numbered tabs. A cover letter from the applicant’s representative may also be included outside the binder. Applications that do not follow these guidelines will be returned unread.

  Tab A or 1

A printed confirmation page from the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application DS-160, one 5X5 cm photo taken within the last six months with a white background.

Your visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt attached to the DS-160 printed confirmation page. The visa processing fee may be paid at any Citibank branch in Costa Rica or click here to pay with a credit card at. A receipt showing payment of the visa application fee for each applicant, including each child listed in a parent’s passport who is also applying for a U.S. visa, is needed.

 Tab B or 2 Two completed copies of Form DS-156E. Contact information must include an e-mail address and fax number.  Please ensure that the form is filled out in its entirety.
 Tab C or 3

A photocopy of the entire passport of each applicant. Please include copies of all prior US visas and approved change of status notices (Form I-797). Please bring your original passport and any prior ones containing U.S. visas with you at the time of the interview.

 Tab D or 4

Submit the following documents to prove family relationship:

  1. Original birth certificate for minors
  2. Original marriage certificate, if applicable
 Tab E or 5 Cover letter describing company, position, and beneficiary. This letter must address all requirements for E visa eligibility as defined by the Foreign Affairs Manual and U.S. law. It should address the following in detail:
  • that the trade is substantial, as defined in 9 FAM 41.51 N6 (to be documented in Tab G/7); and
  • that the trade is occurring principally between the United States and the treaty country, 9 FAM 41.51 N7 (to be documented in Tab H/8); and
  • that the applicant, if an employee, will fill an executive/supervisory role or possesses skills essential to the firm’s operations, 9 FAM 41.51 N14 (to be documented in Tab I/9).

If the company has previously qualified for E visa status, please include the date of the initial qualification. Also, please include a paragraph concerning the applicant’s unequivocal intent to depart US when E status ends.

 Tab F or 6 Proof of treaty country ownership (at least 50%) and controlling interest in the enterprise. Articles of Incorporation, stock certificates and ledgers, Secretary of State certificates, Minutes of Board of Directors’ meetings showing who the officers are and the distribution of capital and other documents of this nature may be included.
 Tab G or 7 Evidence of substantial trade as defined by 9 FAM 41.51 N6.
 Tab H or 8

Evidence that trade is principally between the US and the treaty country as defined by 9 FAM 41.51 N7.US customs invoices and/or purchase receipts may be submitted here, as well as a letter from a company officer certifying the above.

 Tab I or 9 Applicant’s resumé.


If the applicant is applying as an essential employee with Executive and Supervisory Responsibility, evidence that he or she meets the criteria outlined in 9 FAM 41.51 N14.2. This should also include an organizational chart.

If the applicant is applying an essential employee, evidence that employee has essential skills that the enterprise urgently needs, as well as the projected duration of this essentiality. You should include relevant diplomas, job training certificates or letters from previous employers in this section. Please include an organizational chart. You may also wish to explain why the enterprise was unable to find a qualified US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident to fill the position. You should address the criteria contained in 9 FAM 14.51 N14.3

 Tab J or 10 G-28I or G-28 "Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative" (as appropriate), including contact e-mail address and phone number.

Application Documents for Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa

Applications must be submitted in a binder divided into sections clearly separated by lettered or numbered tabs.  A cover letter from the applicant’s representative may also be included outside the binder. Applications that do not follow these guidelines will be returned unread.

 Tab A or 1

A printed confirmation page from the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application DS-160, one 5X5 cm photo taken within the last six months with a white background.

Your visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt attached to the DS-160 printed confirmation page. The visa processing fee may be paid at any Citibank branch in Costa Rica, or click here to pay with a credit card. A receipt showing payment of the visa application fee for each applicant, including each child listed in a parent’s passport who is also applying for a U.S. visa, is needed.

Tab B or 2 If you are applying for an E-2 visa as a Manager, Executive or Essential Employee you must submit, two completed copies of Form DS-156E. Contact information must include an e-mail address and fax number. Please ensure that the form is filled out in its entirety.
Tab C or 3 

A photocopy of the entire passport of each applicant. Please include copies of all prior US visas and approved change of status notices (Form I-797). Please bring your original passport and any old passports containing U.S. visas with you at the time of the interview. A courier service receipt will be needed to return your passport to you after the visa issuance. Each passport must have a separate courier service form attached. Courier forms are available at the Embassy or courier service offices.

Tab D or 4

Submit the following documents to prove family relationship:

  1. Original birth certificate
  2. Original marriage certificate
Tab E or 5 Cover letter describing company, position and beneficiary. This letter must address all requirements for E visa eligibility as defined by the Foreign Affairs Manual and US law. It should address the following in detail:

  • that the investor has invested or is actively in the process of investing, as per 9 FAM 41.51 N8 (to be documented in Tab H/8); and
  • that the enterprise is currently running or will open its doors imminently, 9 FAM 41.51 N9 (to be documented in Tab I/9); and
  • that the investment is substantial, 9 FAM 41.51 N10 (to be documented in Tag J/10; and
  • that the investment is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living, 9 FAM 41.51 N11 (to be documented in Tab K/11); and
  • that the applicant will fill an executive/supervisory role or possesses skills essential to the firm’s operations, 9 FAM 41.51 N14 (to be documented in Tab L/12); or
  • that the applicant is entering the U.S. solely to develop and direct the enterprise, 9 FAM 41.51 N12 (to be documented in Tab L/12).

If the company has previously qualified for E visa status, please include the date and location of the initial qualification. Also, please include a paragraph concerning the applicant’s unequivocal intent to depart United States when E status ends.

Tab F or 6 Proof of treaty country ownership (at least 50%) and controlling interest in the enterprise. Articles of Incorporation, Stock Certificates and Ledgers, Secretary of State certificates, Minutes of Board of Directors’ meetings showing who the officers are and the distribution of capital and other documents of this nature may be included.
Tab G or 7 Proof of the source of funds. This may include copies of bank books, property deeds, income tax statements and/ or any other relevant documentation.
Tab H or 8 Proof that the funds have been invested or that the investor is actively in the process of investing as defined by 9 FAM 41.51 N8. It is important to provide proof of actual purchases and/or signed contracts and leases related to the enterprise, not just wire transfers to a US account.
Tab I or 9 Proof that the enterprise is currently running or will open its doors imminently as defined by 9 FAM 41.51 N9. Evidence may include annual reports, catalogs, sales literature, news articles, client lists, letters from clients attesting to their involvement with the enterprise, signed contracts with clients, and photographs of the enterprise.
Tab J or 10 Evidence that investment is substantial as defined by 9 FAM 41.51 N10.
Tab K or 11

Evidence that enterprise is more than marginal as defined by 9 FAM 41.51 N11. This should include prior tax returns if the business was purchased from a previous owner, Form 941 and Form I-9 (including proof of legal status) and a business plan for the next five years prepared by a certified C.P.A., including projected expenses and profits. The plan must verify the capacity of the enterprise to realize a profit within a maximum of five years (this is only a requirement for new businesses; it is optional for others).

Tab L or 12 Applicant Resume.

 


If the applicant is entering the United States as the principal investor, proof that he or she will and is qualified to solely develop and direct the enterprise (9 FAM 41.51 N12)

If the applicant is applying as an employee with Executive and Supervisory Responsibility, evidence that he or she meets the criteria outlined in 9 FAM 41.51 N14.2. This should also include an organizational chart.

If the applicant is applying an essential employee, evidence that employee has essential skills that the enterprise urgently needs, as well as the projected duration of this essentiality. You should include relevant diplomas, job training certificates or letters from previous employers in this section. Please include an organizational chart. You may also wish to explain why the enterprise was unable to find a qualified US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident to fill the position. You should address the criteria contained in 9 FAM 14.51 N14.3

Tab M or 13  G-28I or G-28 "Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative" (as appropriate), including contact e-mail address and phone number.

Processing time varies with the complexity of the case and our overall workload. Generally, it takes two to three weeks for an officer to review your case, but during peak times, it can take as long as six weeks. Applicants should not make unchangeable travel or business plans until their visas have been issued. Please do not inquire as to the status of the case within a month of our receipt of the case. If you are found eligible for a visa at the time of your interview, your visa will be ready for mailing after three to five working days. Please make flexible travel plans.

Dependents

Spouses and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require a derivative E visa.

Family members who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but wish to visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas.

Spouses and dependents may not work in the United States on a derivative E visa. If your spouse/child seeks employment, the spouse must obtain the explicit authorization to do so from DHS-USCIS in the United States. This authorization must be applied for after their arrival in the United States

Supporting Documents for Dependents
It is preferred that families apply for their visas at the same time, but if the spouse and/or child must apply separately at a later time, they should follow the investor visa application process and submit the following required documents by courier service:

  • A confirmation page of DS-160 (photo loaded) with MRV fee receipt.
  • Two sets of Form DS-156E
  • Proof of the relationship (e.g., family relationship, marriage, basic and adoption certificates)
    • Original birth certificate
    • Original marriage certificate
    • If children are adopted, the adoption certificate issued by the family court.