Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors Visas

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Overview

Current processing times are 6 – 8 weeks for E Visa applications due to high demand. 

Introduction

Treaty Investor visas (E-2) are non-immigrant visas for nationals of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation who wish to go to the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.  The United States does not have a treaty of commerce and navigation with Venezuela.  However, Venezuelan nationals who hold citizenship with a Treaty Country may qualify for an E-2 visa in order to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested. 

Treaty Investor visas were established to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the United States and other countries.  U.S. immigration law explicitly states that E-2 visa holders must enter “solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise” in which he or she has invested. Moreover, these visas are non-immigrant visas and thus temporary. Treaty investor visas can be renewed or extended only if the investment continues to meet all applicable requirements of U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Persons wishing to remain indefinitely in the United States should apply for the appropriate immigrant visa.

Additional information about E visas is available at the Department of State’s website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/employment/treaty-trader-investor-visa-e.html.

Instructions for applying for a Non-Immigrant E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

    • How to Apply

    • Prepare your E Visa Application using the directions below.

      • Complete a DS-160 FormNon-immigrant visa application.  PLEASE NOTE: From 1st November 2016, no eye glasses will be permitted in your U.S. visa photo, read more information here.
      • Log on to http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ve/ and follow the online instructions to pay the visa fee.
      • Set up your E Visa application folder following the directions received by email and deliver it directly to the Consular Visa Unit, E2 Department, U.S. Embassy Caracas, Calle F con Calle Suapure, Urb. Colinas de Valle Arriba, Caracas, Venezuela 1080
      • The E Visa Unit will contact you when the review of your application is complete to schedule an interview.
      • If your visa is approved, it will be mailed to you at no additional cost to the Zoom address you selected on your user profile.
    • Preparing the E Visa Application

       

The maximum size of any package is 100, single-sided, pages. The minimum font size is 12.  Oversized packages are not accepted.  Do not include brochures, photographs, or business plans that do not contribute to the value of your application.  The E Visa Unit evaluates numerous applications a month.  Please think lean and submit only what is necessary to establish qualifications.

  • Tips to establishing E Visa qualification:

    • Lengthy/disordered applications take longer to read and contribute to longer processing times.
    • Pages of hotel and airline booking receipts do not add value.
    • Stacks of bank statements that do not identify which entries are relevant as costs or earnings do not add value.
    • Avoid jargon and buzzwords.  Explain your investment in clear, simple language.  Remember, the E Visa Unit may not be familiar with your particular industry.
    • Clearly explain the investment.  Provide an accounting for that amount in a spreadsheet or other easy to understand format in the cover letter.
    • Clearly identify the source of the funds for your investment.
    • Do not submit documents that are not germane to E visa qualification. 
  • The following documents do not count towards the 100-page limit: forms DS-160, DS-156E, G-28, appointment confirmation, civil documents, copy of passport bio-page, tabs/dividers.  All submissions for new cases or renewals should be organized into sections comprised of the following documentation:

     

    1. Confirmation of appointment.
    2. DS-160 Form confirmation page for all applicants and dependents.  PLEASE NOTE: From 1st November 2016, no eye glasses will be permitted in your U.S. visa photo, read more information here. We don’t have that information and the hyperlink is from the website of Ireland.
    3. A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
    4. Form DS-156E (PDF 228 KB) signed by an officer legally empowered to act in the company’s name.
    5. If your photograph could not be uploaded to your online DS-160, one 2×2 passport-style photograph for each applicant, taken on plain white background within the last six months.
    6. A cover letter summarizing the requirements for an E-visa and how the applicant(s) fulfill(s) them. State exactly and precisely how the enterprise and applicant qualify. Please do not include lengthy citations from the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) or the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
    7. Comprehensive Index/Table of Contents.
    8. For each dependent: A copy of civil documents establishing the relationship between the principal applicant and any dependents (spouse or child under age 21), e.g. government issued birth and/or marriage certificates, adoption papers, etc. At the interview, we will require the original civil documents. Notarized copies, religious documents, hospital records, and short form birth certificates that do not show parentage do not satisfy this requirement.
    9. Supporting documentation as outlined in the Document Checklist below.
  • Document Checklist

    Supporting documentation must be bound with sections clearly delineated by dividers with tabs. If there are more than two documents under one of the numbered tabs, please subdivide the numbered sections into lettered subsections with tabs. Organized submissions ensure an efficient review of an applicant’s case and reduce the need for clarification that may delay processing.

    The following is a list of suggested documentation in the order in which it should be indexed. Additional documents may be requested depending on the circumstances of the case.

    • I. Proof of Nationality of Investor or Applicant
      • Photocopy of passport biographical page
    • II. Ownership Documents (either A, B or C):
      • Sole Proprietorship:
        • Business registration documents
      • Partnership:
        • Partnership or joint venture agreement
        • Shares/stock certificates indicating total shares issued and outstanding shares
      • Corporation:
        • Shares/stock certificates indicating distribution of ownership, i.e. shares held by each firm and shares held by individual owners
        • Corporate matrix
        • If publicly traded on the principal stock exchange of a treaty country, enclose a sample of recently published stock quotations
    • III. Investment

      • For an Existing Enterprise: (show purchase price)
        • Tax valuation
        • Market appraisal
      • For a New Enterprise: (show estimated start-up cost)
        • Trade Association Statistics
        • Chamber of Commerce Estimates
        • Market Surveys
      • Source of Investment:
        • Personal statement of net worth prepared by a certified accountant
        • Transactions showing payment of sold property or business (proof of property ownership and promissory notes) and rental income (lease agreements)
        • Voided investment certificates or internal bank vouchers and appropriate bank statement crediting proceeds
        • Debit and credit advices for personal and/or business account withdrawals
        • Audited financial statement
        • Annual report of parent company
        • Net worth statements from certified professional accountant
      • Evidence of Investment:
      • Existing Enterprise:
        • Escrow documents
        • Signed purchase/sales agreement
        • Closing and settlement papers
        • Loan or mortgage documents
        • Promissory notes
        • Financial reports
        • Tax returns
        • Security agreements
        • Assumption of lease agreement
        • Business account statement for routine operations
      • New Enterprise:
        • Inventory listing, shipment invoices of inventory, equipment or business related property
        • Receipts for inventory purchases
        • Canceled checks or official payment receipts for expenditures
        • Canceled check for first month’s rent or full annual advance rent payment
        • Lease agreement
        • Purchase orders
        • Improvement expenses
        • Initial business accounts statements
        • Wire transfer receipt
    • IV. Marginality
      • For Existing Business
        • Corporate tax returns
        • Latest audited financial statement or non-review statements
        • Annual reports
        • Payroll register
        • W-2 and W-4 tax forms
        • Canceled checks for salaries paid and/or corresponding payroll account
      • For New Business
        • Payroll register, records of salaries paid to employees (if any), employee data including names, rates of pay, copies of W-2s
        • Financial projections for next 5 years, supported by a complete and thorough business plan
        • Business income and current corporate tax returns
        • Proof of registration, ownership, audited financial and review engagements
    • V. Real & Operating Commercial Enterprise
      • Occupational license
      • Business License/business permits
      • Sales tax receipt
      • Utility/telephone bills
      • Business transaction records
      • Current/commercial account statements
      • Letters of credit
      • Invoices from suppliers
      • Advertising leaflets
      • Business brochures/promotional literature
      • Newspaper clippings
    • VI. Executive/Managerial/Supervisory/Essential Skills (when applicable)
      • Letter from the E-visa enterprise providing specific information on the applicant and the reasons for his/her assignment to the U.S. The letter should explain the employee’s role in the E-visa company (job title and duties), the applicant’s executive or supervisory responsibilities or, if not a supervisor, his/her specialist role, the level of education and knowledge required by the employee’s position, his/her employment experience, progression of promotion or high level training or special qualifications and the reasons why a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident cannot fill the position (if the position is not managerial or supervisory).
      • Letter from responsible official at U.S. Company or office identifying the need for assigned employee.
      • Organizational chart showing current staffing pattern at U.S. Company.
      • Evidence of executive, supervisory or specialized knowledge, education, experience, skills or training, such as certificates, diplomas or transcripts.

 

Applying for an E Visa

Follow the below steps to apply for an E visa at the Embassy:

      • Step 1: Fill out the application form, otherwise known as the DS-160.  The questions are in English, but you can access a Spanish translation by selecting “Spanish” in the ToolTip dropdown menu in the upper right corner of the page.  Then, place your cursor over a phrase to see an instant translation.  Once you have finished, please remember to print your confirmation page!  Our help page has answers to frequently asked questions about filling-out the DS-160.

      • Step 2: Please refer to the Visa Information Service webpage, select Non-Immigrant Visa and follow the on-screen instructions.

      • Step 3: All applicants at least the age of 14 must attend the first appointment.  At this time you must submit a full package of all required documents, including a completed DS-156E, and a follow up interview will be scheduled for the coming week.  Check our website for information about security procedures and getting to the Embassy

Instructions for Non-Immigrant E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Dependents

How to Apply: In some cases, the direct relatives of the main applicant (wife and children) apply for an E visa following the approval of the main applicant's case. This is perfectly valid. Prepare your application as a visa dependent E following the instructions below, it is not necessary to re-submit the file of the main applicant:

    • DS-160 confirmation page.
    • Proof of your relationship with the Principal Applicant (Certificate of Marriage (Spouses) / Certificate of Birth (Children))
    • Copy of the Principal Applicant's visa.
    • A copy of the biometric page of your valid passport. If the passport is damaged, you must obtain a new passport before applying for a visa.
    • Color photograph. The photograph should be 5 cm x 5 cm (2 inches x 2 inches), full frontal view of the shoulders and face, against a white background. If you have not been able to upload your image on the DS-160 form, you can deliver it with the file directly to the Embassy.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I own a house in the United States.  Does this qualify as an investment and entitle me to an E-2 visa?

No.  Owning property in the United States does not entitle you to a visa.  To qualify for an E-2 visa the investment must be a real active and commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking, producing some service or commodity.

Can I retire to the U.S. on an E-2 visa?

No.  The E visa is a work visa, specifically intended for those who are coming to the U.S. to “solely to develop and direct the operations of the enterprise”.  Eligibility ceases when you no longer meet these requirements.

Does an E visa lead to a “green card” or “citizenship”?

An E visa is a non-immigrant visa and does not lead to either a “green card” or “citizenship”.  You may remain in the U.S. only as long as your business conforms to the E visa regulations.  Applicants who wish to become US citizens must apply for the appropriate immigrant visa category.

How much money do I need to invest?

There is no minimum money requirement; however the investment must be substantial in relation to the total cost of either purchasing an established business or creating a new business. It must also be sufficient to ensure the investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise.

Do I need to have the money invested before I apply for the visa?

Yes. The E-2 visa regulations state that the funds or assets must be committed to the enterprise and the commitments must be real and irrevocable.  Funds can be considered “irrevocably committed” if they are held in an escrow account for release of transfer contingent on the issuance of an E visa. Mere intent to invest or possession of uncommitted funds on a bank account, or even prospective investment arrangements entailing no present commitment will not suffice.

How can I start a business without a visa?

You may enter the U.S. in B-1 (temporary business) visa status in order to set up (not run) your business. Individuals seeking investment, like all B-1/B-2 travelers, are precluded from performing productive labor or from actively participating in the management of the business while in the United States in B status. (9 FAM 402.2-5(C)(7))

If required you may hire individuals (who are properly documented to work in the U.S.) to manage and run daily operations prior to receiving your visa.   Once you have the initial commitments completed you may apply for your E visa.

Can my spouse and children work in the U.S.?

Effective January 16, 2002, dependent spouses of E visa holders are eligible to apply for work authorization from the Citizenship and Immigrant Service.  Children of E visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States unless they have independently qualified for employment authorization.

Can my fiancé(s) or common law wife accompany me?

Under U.S. Immigration law, a legal marriage must exist to be considered as a spouse.  Therefore, fiancé(s) and common law spouses do not qualify for derivative E visas.

Do my children need to be present at the interview?

Dependent children under 14 do not need to attend.  However they must be in Venezuela when their visas are issued.  Applicants maybe be advised to provide evidence of their presence.