Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors Visas

On this page:

 

 

 

 

 

Overview

Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. For a list of all treaty countries, click hereTo qualify for Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas applicants must be coming to the United States either to engage in substantial trade, including trade in service or technology, in qualifying activities, which is principally between the United States and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operation of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested a substantial amount of capital.

The E-3 classification applies only to nationals of Australia. Visa applicants must be coming to the United States solely to perform services in a specialty occupation. The specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields and at least the attainment of a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

Any applicant holding the nationality of a treaty country is free to apply for an E visa in the Dominican Republic. However, it is important to realize that an application for any visa is not a guarantee that it will be approved. Even if conditionally approved, various and required administrative processes may prevent the immediate issuance of the visa, and issuance may be delayed for weeks or even months. Applicants without ties to the Dominican Republic may find themselves remaining here indefinitely, and for that reason, it is often preferable to apply in one’s country of residency.

Spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of principal E visa holders may 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 E visa holder to obtain a dependent E visa.

Only spouses of a principal E visa holder may apply for work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after admission to the United States. Unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of principal E visa holders are not authorized to work in the United States as a condition of the visa class.

All holders of E visas must intend to depart the United States upon the termination of their E status. E visas are nonimmigrant visas; consequently, visa holders are allowed to live in the United States only so long as the conditions under which the visa was granted remain valid as authorized by the DHS.

To qualify for a treaty trader (E-1) visa

  • The applicant must be a citizen of a treaty country.
  • The trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise.
  • The international trade must be "substantial". There must be a sizeable and continuing volume of trade (trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology). Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other.
  • The trade of the U.S. enterprise must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country. More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant's nationality.
  • The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skill essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify. Please note that a detailed explanation of why the applicant's skills are essential for the enterprise in the U.S. may be required.
  • The applicant must intend to depart the U.S. when his/her E-1 status ends.

To qualify for a treaty investor (E-2) visa

  • The investor, either a person, partnership or a corporate entity, must have the citizenship of the treaty country. If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.
  • The investment must be substantial and the funds have to be "irrevocably" committed. The investment must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • The investment must be in a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or mere ownership of undeveloped land are not considered an investment.
  • The investment may not be marginal. Based on 9 FAM 402.9, the enterprise must either show a financial return that significantly exceeds what is necessary to support a living for the investor or else the enterprise must have the capacity, present or future, to make a significant economic contribution.
  • The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in a commercial sense. If the funds are not subject to partial or total loss if business fortunes reverse, then the investment is not an investment in the sense intended by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 101(a)(15)(E) and in 9 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 402.9. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise do not qualify.
  • The investor must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify. Please note that a detailed explanation of why the applicant's skills are essential for the enterprise in the U.S. or why the applicant possesses qualifying “executive or supervisory experience“ may be required.
  • The applicant must intend to depart the U.S. when his/her E-2 status ends.

To qualify for an Australian specialty occupation (E-3) visa

  • The applicant must be an Australian citizen or qualifying dependent.
  • The applicant must present an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA) issues by the Department of Labor.
  • The applicant must demonstrate the necessary academic qualifications for the job as described in 9 FAM 402.9-8(H)
  • The applicant must provide evidence of a license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation if required as a condition for the employment sought (see 9 FAM 402.9-8(H)).
  • The applicant must intend to depart the U.S. when his/her E-3 status ends.

Application Process:

Step 1

Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form. You will also need to submit DS-160s for each family member accompanying you.

Step 2

Register online at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/do/ and pay the visa fees for yourself and your family members. Please note that the application fee is nonrefundable.

Step 3

Email your application and supporting documentation to the Embassy in Santo Domingo. Please follow the below instructions carefully. Incorrectly submitted applications will not be reviewed.

  • E visa applications must not exceed 70 single sided pages and must be submitted electronically! The entire E visa package should be submitted electronically to SDO-Evisas@state.gov. Please use the e-mail subject line: “Surname, Given Name, Business Name, E Visa Application”.
  • Please limit attachments to 2 MB in PDF. We only accept PDF files. Do NOT send “zipped” or “linked” files, as we cannot access or open these.
  • All documents must be submitted in English and should be applicable to the case.
  • Applications should be submitted in only one email with five separate attachments for E1 applicants (Tabs A-E) or seven separate attachments for E2 applicants (Tabs A-G), as shown in the section "Trade or Investment – Tabs" below.
  • Please assemble your email package according to these guidelines. Incorrectly formatted packages will not be processed. Do not include brochures or business plans that contribute little or nothing to the value of your case. 
  • Please note that submission requirements are the same for a spouse and/or unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of principal E visa holders applying after the principal E visa holder.

Step 4

You will receive an email confirming receipt of your package. If your package is incomplete or incorrectly formatted, it will not be processed. For general questions on E visa processing or specific questions regarding E visa cases submitted, please contact SDO-Evisas@state.gov

Step 5

Once your application has been reviewed and any requested additional information received, you will receive an email through the online notification system to schedule an interview. After the interview in Santo Domingo, if your case is approved, you will receive your passport(s) and visa(s) through Mailboxes, Etc. on average in one week from the interview date, assuming no additional administrative processing is necessary.

Trade or Investment – Tabs

Tab A: Table of Contents

Tab B: Forms 

  • DS-160 barcode confirmation pages for principal applicant and family members;
  • Receipt showing payment of the non-refundable application fees;
  • Completed DS-156E for principal applicant only; and
  • If you will be represented in this matter by an attorney, you must submit Form G-28 “Notice of Entry of Appearance of Attorney as Representative” and should include contact e-mail address and phone number for the attorney. If your representative is not an attorney, please submit a letter of agreement between the applicant and the representative signed by both parties.

Tab C: Applicant Information

  • If principal is accompanied by family members, marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates showing the relationship to principal applicant;
  • Principal applicant’s resume or curriculum vitae;
  • If the applicant is not the business owner but an employee, please include a job letter from the company. This letter should describe:
    • The business;
    • The job the applicant will do; and
    • His or her qualifications for that job.
  • Signed statement from the principal applicant of intent to depart the U.S. upon termination of E status; and
  • If applicable, please provide copies of any changes or extensions of status granted by USCIS (Form I-797).

Tab D: Ownership

  • Please demonstrate at least 50% ownership of the business.  U.S. dual citizens or Legal Permanent Residents do not qualify.
  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations) or Organization (for LLCs) for U.S. business;
  • Share certificates and/or operating agreements (as applicable) to verify ownership;
  • If the firm has several owners or subsidiaries or if the chain of ownership includes intermediary entities, please include the following (as applicable):
    • An organization chart with names showing the full ownership structure of the entity;
    • Legal proof of ownership within a respective chain; and
    • Color photocopies of the bio data page of the passports and the percentage of each unit holder of the definitive parent company.
  • If the firm is publicly traded with many shareholders (none of which own more than 50%) include:
    • A written declaration justly authorized by a corporate official stating all of the stock exchanges on which the firm is traded; and
    • A copy of recently issued trading information concerning the nationality of the stock’s owners; and
    • If the firm is an incorporated entity outside of the U.S., include a chart of ownership of the enterprise and a certificate of existence/registration from the state/province in which the company is incorporated.

Tab E: Trade or Investment

A letter describing how the enterprise and beneficiary qualify for either an E-1 or E-2 visa. The letter must address all the requirements for E-1 or E-2 visa eligibility, described in depth in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual 9 FAM 402.9. Address the following points in detail:

E1 Trade E2 Investment
  • The trade is substantial and on-going;
  • The traded goods are easily identified and traceable; and
  • At least 50% of the trade is between the U.S. and the treaty country;
  • Evidence supporting the claims made in the cover letter.  U.S. Department of Homeland Security bills of lading are the preferred documentation to verify this requirement; however, annual reports, purchase orders or invoices, sales invoices, inventory data and insurance papers documenting commodities imported into the U.S. may be acceptable under the following circumstances:
    • Provide a spreadsheet listing every qualifying transaction of international trade between the treaty countries during the last calendar year.  If there is a U.S. entity with separate legal status (such as an incorporated company or a LLC), all figures should refer to its trade.  This table should include the date, the invoice number, and the dollar value of theShow in a prominent place the total number and value of these transactions; and 
    • Provide copies of a representational sampling of the U.S. DHS bills of lading and/or invoices summarized in the table proving that the goods or services moved from one country to the other; and
    • U.S. tax returns for the business for the past two years.  These must be copies of the signed and dated forms actually submitted to the IRS.
  • The investor has made or is in the process of making an at risk, irrevocably committed investment (please note that funds in a bank account do not qualify);
  • The enterprise is currently operational or will commence operations imminently;
  • The investment is substantial; and
  • The investment is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living;
  • Investment spreadsheet. Evidence of investment is required, e.g., cancelled checks, copies of debits from bank accounts, wire transfers, and matching invoices;
  • A complete money trail of the funds invested, including:
    • Documentation of the original source of the funds (sale of property, inheritance, loans, earnings, sale of business, etc.);
    • Movement of these funds to a U.S. account; and
    • Use of these funds for qualifying business expenses.  Please include invoices, cancelled checks, and bank statements showing matching debits (highlighted).
  • If you are buying an existing business, please provide all of the following that apply in your case:
    • A signed, dated, valid purchase agreement;
    • A binding escrow agreement (see 9 FAM 402.9 for guidelines) that explicitly says where the money goes if the visa is issued, what happens when it is not, and is signed and dated by all parties.  Please cross-reference exactly any relevant purchase agreement;
    • Signed, dated, valid lease for business premises, including evidence of payments; and/or
    • Evidence of any other funds spent to acquire and set up the business.
  • If you are establishing a start-up, please provide all of the following that apply:
    • Signed, dated, valid lease for business premises, including evidence of payments;
    • Evidence of equipment and/or inventory purchases;
  • If you are purchasing a franchise, please provide:
    • A signed and dated franchise agreement; and
    • Evidence of payment of the franchise fee.

Tab F: Real and Operating

  • Relevant local, state and/or federal licenses; and
  • Monthly bank statements for current calendar year. 

Tab G: Marginality

  • U.S. tax returns for business for the past two years. These must be copies of the signed and dated forms actually submitted to the IRS;
  • All W-2 and/or 1099s for the last two tax years;
  • Profit and loss statements for the current and previous calendar years; and/or
  • Start-up businesses should also provide:
    • A concise business plan that analyzes the local market and competition and gives a 5-year projection of profit and loss. Projections should be backed up by external sources; and
    • A concise breakdown of start-up costs necessary for the business to become operational.

Australian Specialty Occupation-Tabs

Your Form I-129 must include the following documents:

Tab A

A Labor Condition Application (LCA) which cannot be the same application used in a previous H-1B application.  Until the Department of Labor develops a new LCA for an E-3, the applicant should use the standard ETA-9035 and ask that it be annotated as an E-3 LCA

Tab B

Academic or other credentials demonstrating qualifications for the position

Tab C

Job offer letter or other documentation from the employer establishing that you will be engaged in a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage

Tab D

If required, before you may commence employment in the specialty occupation, you must have the necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation

More Information

For more information about E visas, visit the Department of State's Treaty Trader and Investor Visa webpage.