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. Switzerland is one of these countries. 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 investor/trader 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.

  • Please click here to access the consulate's information pamphlet on what you need to know to file a successful E visa application. 

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

The requirements for the Treaty Trader Visa (E-1) are:

  • 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 41.51, 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) 41.51. 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.

Application Process

Step 1

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

Step 2

Pay the visa application fee.

Step 3

Prepare and scan in separate PDF files of the supporting documents as follows:

For both E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor Companies:

Basic Documentation - Attachment A

  • A cover letter describing the enterprise and the applicant. The letter must address how the enterprise and employee meet the E visa requirements.
  • Form DS-156E
  • An executive summary of the business plan and financial forecast covering 5 years.
  • Business tax returns (first 2 pages only) for the past three years if an existing enterprise.

Evidence of Ownership - Attachment B

  • Evidence that the Enterprise is at least 50% owned by nationals of a treaty country. 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.

Requirements for Employees - Attachment C

  • Employees of E visa companies must provide a description from the company showing they will occupy for an Executive/Supervisory positions or possess skills essential to the firm’s operations in the United States, and evidence they are qualified for that position. Possible evidence includes organizational charts, resumes or CVs, diplomas or training certificates, and letters from previous employers.

In addition, E-1 Treaty Trader companies should submit
Evidence of Trade - Attachment D1

  • Evidence of ongoing, substantial trade between the U.S. and the applicant’s country of nationality. Examples: monthly summaries, invoice summaries, shipping receipt summaries, custom clearances, warehouse receipts, contracts, sales receipts, other. Evidence must contain volume of trade and identification of the purchasing party/client.

Do not submit copies of every invoice or receipt!

In addition, E-2 Treaty Trader companies should submit
Evidence of Investment - Attachment D2

  • Evidence that the applicant has invested or is in the process of investing (e.g. contracts, promissory notes, leases, purchase contracts, bank statements, etc.) Include proof of payments, such as cancelled checks or bank account statements. Money sitting in a bank in the USA is not an investment as it is uncommitted!
  • Evidence that the business is a currently operating commercial enterprise, such as annual income statements, catalogs, pictures, business invoice summaries and corresponding bank receipts, purchases, W-2/W-3 showing total employees, etc.
  • Demonstrate that the investment is substantial, and that the business meets the marginality test, i.e, that it will provide more than just a living for the applicant and his/her family and will contribute to the US economy (for example, by providing employment to U.S. citizens or resident aliens).

Step 4

Read carefully the instructions. After entering the receipt number you will receive the following message:

"Your request to schedule an appointment has been received and will be reviewed."

Step 5

Submit the Application:

All E-1 and E-2 applications and supporting documents divided in PDF files (A-B-C-D) must be e-mailed to bernnivevisa@state.gov for review before the visa interview is scheduled. Incomplete and undocumented applications cannot be processed.

Documents may be e-mailed by the applicant or their legal representative. Applications will only be accepted in electronic form in the order described above.

Step 6

Review of the Application:
Upon receipt at the Consulate, the application will be reviewed for completeness. We will contact you if additional documentation is needed and/or to schedule an appointment.

Turnaround time for an E visa application procedure is approximately two months, from the moment you send your file to the moment your interview is scheduled. So please take this into consideration when you send your application.

Step 7

You will receive an email once your request is approved.

Important: After your request was approved, log back into your profile on www.ustraveldocs.com and select “Continue” option in order to schedule the appointment (left side of the screen).

Interview and Final Adjudication:
On the day of the interview, applicants should be prepared to discuss their business in detail and bring their valid passport and an actual photograph. Legal representatives and/or financial advisors are not permitted to attend. At the conclusion of the interview, the consular officer will determine if the business and applicant qualify under U.S. regulations for the visa.

back to top

Renewals of E Visas

If you would like to renew an E visa please submit electronically in PDF files (called R files) the following documents:

Employees of registered Companies

Please submit electronically in PDF file (called E file) the following documents:

  • The Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form
  • Pay the visa application fee
  • An updated Form DS-156E
  • Description from the company showing they will occupy for an Executive/Supervisory positions or possess skills essential to the firm’s operations in the United States, and evidence they are qualified for that position. Possible evidence includes organizational charts, resumes or CVs, diplomas or training certificates, and letters from previous employers.

Additional information about how to apply for Treaty Trader / Treaty Investor Visa

Applicants for treaty trader/treaty investor visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

Applications should be submitted electronically only and must be divided in files per description above and attached to an email.

You may contact us for further assistance and information by email: bernnivevisa@state.gov

Please find more useful information on: Treaty Trader and Investor Visa webpage

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About E-1 and E-2 Visas

Q: Must the trading company exist and/or the investment have been made before the visa can be issued?

A: Trade must already be established at the time of visa application. Investments, however, may be prospective, provided that the funds are irrevocably committed to the investment, contingent only upon the issuance of the visa. Investment funds may come from any country, including the United States, as long as they are controlled by the investor applicant.

Q: What is substantial trade?

A: Substantial trade contemplates a continuous flow of trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country. This means numerous transactions rather than a single transaction regardless of monetary value.

Q: What is a substantial amount of capital?

A: There is no fixed amount which is considered “substantial.” A substantial amount of capital constitutes that amount which is ample to ensure the investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise as measured by the proportionality test. The proportionality test compares the total amount invested in the enterprise with the cost of establishing a viable enterprise of the nature contemplated or the amount of capital needed to purchase an existing enterprise.

The investment must do more than merely yield a return capable of supporting the investor and family. A marginal enterprise is an enterprise which does not have the capacity to generate significantly more than enough income to provide a living for the investor, family and other alien employees.

Q: Are joint ventures permitted?

A: Yes, provided that the business or individual investor applying for the visa is in a position to “develop and direct” the enterprise. The applicant is in such a position by controlling the enterprise through ownership of at least 50% of the business, possessing operational control through a marginal position or other corporate device, or by other means showing the applicant controls the enterprise.

Q: How long may the Treaty Trader or Investor stay in the U.S.?

A: The applicant must have the intention of departing the U.S. upon conclusion of the commercial activities. Nevertheless, holders of E-visas may reside in the U.S. as long as they continue to meet E-visa qualifications.

“Essential employees” may remain only as long as their skills are required to operate the business, and only as long as the owner can show either that U.S. workers cannot be trained to duplicate the skills or that the owner is making reasonable efforts to train U.S. workers as replacements.

For Swiss, the E-visa normally is valid for 48 months for E1/E2 applicants. On initial entry, immigration officials normally authorize a stay of up to one year in the U.S., with extensions generally available for as long as the E-visa holder and family maintain their E-visa status.

back to top