Treaty Traders And Treaty Investors (E-1/E-2)

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Overview

Overview for E-1/E2 countries*

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. Taiwan maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. For a list of all treaty countries, click here

To 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. Holders of E visas must intend to depart the United States upon the termination of their E status.

The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of treaty traders, treaty investors, or employees of enterprises 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 applicant to obtain an E visa.

E visas permit the trader/investor and his or her family to live in the United States during the period of stay authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 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. 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. Dependents of treaty traders/investors may apply for work authorization after their arrival in the United States.

Overview for E-2 only countries*

To qualify for Treaty Investor (E-2) visas applicants must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the operation of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested a substantial amount of capital. Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. Taiwan maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. For a list of all treaty countries, click here.

The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of treaty investors, or employees of enterprises 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 applicant to obtain an E visa.

E visas permit the investor and his or her family to live in the United States during the period of stay authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 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. 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. Dependents of treaty investors may apply for work authorization after their arrival in the United States.

Qualifications

Qualifications 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. 

Qualifications 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 49, 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) 49. 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.

Dependents

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. Dependents must provide proof of family relationship.

E visas permit the investor/trader and his/her family to live in the United States during the period of stay authorized by DHS. These visas are non-immigrant 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 US 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.

Application Items

To apply for an E visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form confirmation page. Visit the DS-160 web page for more information about the DS-160.
  • A Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application (DS-156E) Form
  • A valid passport. Most visa applicants must have a passport valid for at least 6 months past the date of their anticipated departure from the United States. Taiwan passport holders and passport holders from certain countries may enter the United States with passports that will expire in less than 6 months. However, they will not be permitted to remain in the U.S. beyond the validity of their passports.
  • All previous passports. If your previous passports are lost or stolen, you must provide AIT with a Certificate of Entry and Exit Dates (from 1983 to present).  To obtain a Certificate of Entry and Exit Dates, please visit the Taiwan National Immigration Agency’s website for details.  If you have reported your passport lost or stolen, please also provide the police report.
  • One color photograph (5cmx5cm) taken within the last six months with a white or off-white background. Starting November 1, 2016, eyeglasses will no longer be allowed in visa photos. This web page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee paid in local currency. This web page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State's website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.( AIT strongly advises all customers to bring cash, as our system does not always accommodate credit card transactions. Thank you.)
  • An interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service.
  • If you have legally changed your name, please bring your most recent Taiwan Household Registration Record (with detailed notes). If you are not a Taiwan resident, please bring your Taiwan Alien Resident Certificate or your Taiwan visa information.
  • If you have been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, please bring the police record or court documents to your interview.  (If the original record was not written in English, please also provide an English translation.)  Please also provide a Taiwan Police Criminal Record Certificate regardless of where you were arrested or convicted.
  • If you have abandoned your U.S. lawful permanent resident status (or green card), please provide proof of abandonment.
  • The visa applicant must prove that the trading or investing enterprise meets and complies with all E visa classification requirements. The applicant can expect the consular officer to request additional documentation as part of the adjudication process.

You may also bring other relevant documents you believe will support the application provided to the consular officer. Please make sure the documents are not glued or permanently bound together.

How to Apply

Step 1

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

Step 2

Pay the visa application fee.

Step 3

Schedule your appointment on this web page. You will need the following information in order to schedule your appointment:

  • Your passport number.
  • The receipt number from your Visa Fee receipt. (Click here if you need help finding this number).
  • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.
Step 4

Visit the American Institute in Taiwan on the date and time of your visa interview. You must bring all the application items listed above as well as the supporting documents below.Applicants will not be allowed to enter the American Institute in Taiwan without these documents. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted. Please do NOT mail your documents to AIT in advance.

Supporting Documents

While it is impossible to specify the exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly by applicant, all applicants MUST organize their materials into sections divided into tabs as described below.  Please be advised that supporting documents are limited to 60 single-sided pages.  Applications larger than 60 pages will not be accepted.   Please review your documents before the interview in case the officer has questions about your application. 

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the American Institute in Taiwan in a sealed envelope. The American Institute in Taiwan will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

Tab A: Cover Letter from Company

Provide a concise cover letter describing the relevant facts and circumstances behind the E visa application. This letter must address all requirements for E visa eligibility. It should address the following in detail:

  • that the investor has invested or is actively in the process of investing;
  • that the enterprise is currently running or will open its doors imminently;
  • that the investment or trade is substantial; and
  • that the company’s operation is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living.

Additionally, the letter should include:

  • a brief description of the company’s structure, development, and current or proposed profit-making activities;
  • if the company has previously qualified for E visa status, the date of the initial qualification and the most recent qualification;
  • the applicant’s role in the company, the applicant’s qualifications (including why specialized skill applicants are essential), and the reasons why a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident cannot fill the position; and
  • a statement concerning the applicant’s unequivocal intent to depart United States when the E status ends.
Tab B: Proof of Treaty Country Ownership (at least 50%) of Company
  • Acceptable forms of proof may include: Articles of incorporation, shares/stock certificates and ledgers, public stock exchange listings, annual reports, and minutes of Board of Directors’ meetings showing who the officers are and the distribution of capital.
Tab C1: Proof of Substantial Trade (E-1 visas)
  • Acceptable forms of proof may include: Inventory listings, tax returns, business account bank statements, and company sales reports or financial statements.
Tab C2: Proof of Substantial Investment by Investor (E-2 visas)
  • Acceptable forms of proof may include: Tax returns, signed lease or property purchase agreements, business account bank statements, audited financial statements, wire transfer statements, inventory listings, and paid invoices of goods and services purchased for the company.
Tab D: Proof of Viable, Operating Enterprise
  • Applicants must prove the company is already in operation or will imminently begin operating with a goal to make a profit. Acceptable forms of proof may include: Business license/permits, multi-year business plan, purchase orders, employee payroll documents, and signed contracts or letters of intent from clients.
Tab E: Proof of Qualifications of Applicants
  • Principal Investors must provide proof that he or she is qualified to solely develop and direct the enterprise, and will do so.
  • Employees with Executive and Supervisory Responsibility must provide proof that they are qualified for the position and that significant supervisory or executive tasks will be accomplished.
  • Highly Specialized Skill employees must provide proof that the enterprise urgently needs their skills, as well as the projected duration of this essentiality.
  • Acceptable forms of proof may include: company organizational chart, position descriptions, applicant’s relevant diplomas, certificates of training, documentation of relevant job experience, and C.V. or resume. You may also wish to explain why the enterprise was unable to find a qualified US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR “greencard holder”) to fill the position.

E visa Renewals

Applicants who have received an E visa in the past and are applying to renew their visa should be prepared to present the above documentation as well as documentation showing changes in the company and the applicant’s status since their last E visa issuance.

E-1 and E-2 Dependents:
  • Dependents must prove a family relationship to primary applicant. Acceptable proof may include: birth certificate, marriage certificate, household registration certificate, and official adoption or legal guardianship degree.
  • If dependents apply for a visa at a later date, they must bring a copy of the principal applicant’s E visa with the application.
  • Dependents who have been working in the United States and are renewing their E visa must bring their Employment Authorization Document (”EAD”) to the interview.

* With respect to all references to “country” or “countries” on this page, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.”  22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1).  Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in this context are read to include Taiwan.  This is consistent with the United States’ one-China policy, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.