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Treaty Traders/Investors E Status

The E Visa (Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor) is available to certain aliens from countries which have a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent with the United States. A treaty trader or treaty investor may be admitted for an initial period of not more than 2 years.

Treaty trader

An alien is classifiable as a nonimmigrant treaty trader (E-1) if:

  • The alien will be in the United States solely to carry on trade of a substantial nature, which is international in scope, either on the alien's behalf or as an employee of a foreign person or organization engaged in trade, principally between the United States and the foreign state of which the alien is a national, (consideration being given to any conditions in the country of which the alien is a national which may affect the alien's ability to carry on such substantial trade); and
  • The alien intends to depart from the United States upon the termination of E-1 status.

Treaty investor

An alien is classifiable as a nonimmigrant treaty investor (E-2) if:

  • The Alien has invested or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in bona fide enterprise in the United States, as distinct from a relatively small amount of capital in a marginal enterprise solely for the purpose of earning a living; and
  • Is seeking entry solely to develop and direct the enterprise; and
  • Intends to depart from the United States upon the termination of E-2 status.

Employees of a treaty trader or treaty investor

An alien employee of a treaty trader may be classified E-1, and an alien employee of a treaty investor may be classified E-2 if the employee is in or is coming to the United States to engage in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or, if employed in a lesser capacity, the employee has special qualifications that make the services to be rendered essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise.

The employer must be:

  • A person having the nationality of the treaty country, who is maintaining the status of treaty trader or treaty investor if in the United States or if not in the United States would be classifiable as a treaty trader or treaty investor; or
  • An organization at least 50% owned by persons having the nationality of the treaty country who are maintaining nonimmigrant treaty trader or treaty investor status if residing in the United States or if not residing in the United States who would be classifiable as treaty traders or treaty investors.

Spouse and children of treaty trader or treaty investor

The spouse and children of a treaty trader or treaty investor accompanying or following to join the principal alien are entitled to the same classification as the principal alien. The nationality of a spouse or child of a treaty trader or treaty investor is not material.

Treaty country

Generally, a treaty country is a foreign state with which a qualifying Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation or its equivalent exists with the United States. A treaty country includes a foreign state that is accorded treaty visa privileges by specific legislation (other than the INA).

Nationality of the treaty country

The nationality of an individual treaty trader or treaty investor is determined by the authorities of the foreign state of which the alien claims nationality (United States lawful permanent residents are not considered to be foreign nationals for treaty purposes). In the case of an organization, ownership must be traced as best as is practicable to the individuals who ultimately own the organization.


The term "trade" means the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Existing trade includes successfully negotiated contracts binding upon the parties which call for the immediate exchange of items of trade. This exchange must be traceable and identifiable. Title to the trade item must pass from one treaty party to the other.

Items which qualify for trade include but are not limited to goods, services, technology, monies, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, communications, and some news gathering activities.

Substantial trade

Substantial trade entails the quantum of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of trade items between the United States and the treaty country. This continuous flow contemplates numerous exchanges over time rather than a single transaction, regardless of the monetary value. Although the monetary value of the trade item being exchanged is a relevant consideration, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of larger value.

In the case of smaller businesses, an income derived from the value of numerous transactions which is sufficient to support the treaty trader and his or her family constitutes a favorable factor in assessing the existence of substantial trade.

Principal trade

Trade shall be considered to be principal trade between the United States and the treaty country when over 50% of the volume of international trade of the treaty trader is conducted between the United States and the treaty country of the treaty trader's nationality.


Investment means the treaty investor's placing of capital, including funds and other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit.

The treaty investor must be in possession of and have control over the capital invested or being invested.

The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if investment fortunes reverse. Such investment capital must be the investor's unsecured personal business capital or capital secured by personal assets.

Capital in the process of being invested or that has been invested must be irrevocably committed to the enterprise. The alien has the burden of establishing such irrevocable commitment given to the particular circumstances of each case.

The alien may use any legal mechanism available, such as by placing invested funds in escrow pending visa issuance, that would not only irrevocably commit funds to the enterprise but that might also extend some personal liability protection to the treaty investor.

Bona fide enterprise

The enterprise must be a real and active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking, producing some service or commodity for profit and must meet applicable legal requirements for doing business in the particular jurisdiction in the United States.

Substantial amount of capital

A substantial amount of capital constitutes that amount that is:

  • Substantial in the proportional sense, i.e., in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or creating the type of enterprise under consideration;
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor's financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise; and
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise.

Whether an amount of capital is substantial in the proportionality sense is understood in terms of an inverted sliding scale; i.e., the lower the total cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to meet these criteria.

Marginal enterprise

A marginal enterprise is an enterprise that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family. An enterprise that does not have the capacity to generate such income but that has a present or future capacity to make a significant economic contribution is not a marginal enterprise. The projected future capacity should generally be realizable within five years from the date the alien commences normal business activity of the enterprise.

Solely to develop and direct

The business or individual treaty investor does or will develop and direct the enterprise by controlling the enterprise through ownership of at least 50% of the business, by possessing operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device, or by other means.

Executive or supervisory character

The executive or supervisory element of the employee's position must be a principal and primary function of the position and not an incidental or collateral function. Executive and/or supervisory duties grant the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the enterprise's overall operation or a major component thereof.

  • An executive position provides the employee great authority to determine policy of and direction for the enterprise.
  • A position primarily of supervisory character grants the employee supervisory responsibility for a significant proportion of an enterprise's operations and does not generally involve the direct supervision of low-level employees.

Special qualifications

Special qualifications are those skills and/or aptitudes that an employee in a lesser capacity brings to a position or role that are essential to the successful or efficient operation of the enterprise.

  • The essential nature of the alien's skills to the employing firm is determined by assessing the degree of proven expertise of the alien in the area of operations involved, the uniqueness of the specific skill or aptitude, the length of experience and/or training with the firm, the period of training or other experience necessary to perform effectively the projected duties, and the salary the special qualifications can command. The question of special skills and qualifications must be determined by assessing the circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
  • Whether the special qualifications are essential will be assessed in light of all circumstances at the time of each visa application on a case- by-case basis. A skill that is unique at one point may become commonplace at a later date. Skills required to start up an enterprise may no longer be essential after initial operations are complete and are running smoothly. Some skills are essential only in the short-term for the training of locally-hired employees. Long-term essentiality might, however, be established in connection with continuous activities in such areas as product improvement, quality control, or the provision of a service not generally available in the United States.

Labor disputes

Citizens of Canada or Mexico shall not be entitled to E-1 or E-2 classification if the Attorney General and the Secretary of Labor have certified that:

  • There is in progress a strike or lockout in the course of a labor dispute in the occupational classification at the place or intended place of employment; and
  • The alien has failed to establish that the alien’s entry will not affect adversely the settlement of the strike or lockout or the employment of any person who is involved in the strike or lockout.


Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia,  Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China (Taiwan) 1 , China (Taiwan), Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo, Dem. Rep. of the (Kinshasa), Costa Rica,  Czech  Republic2, Denmark 3, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France 4, Georgia Germany, Greece, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan 5, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands 6, Norway 7, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Rep, Spain 8, Sri Lanka, Suriname 9, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom 10, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia 11

  1. Pursuant to Section 6 of the Taiwan Relations Act, Pub. L. 96-8, 93 Stat, 14, and Executive Order 12143, 44 F.R. 37191, this agreement which was concluded with the Taiwan authorities prior to January 1, 1979 is administered on a nongovernmental basis by the American Institute in Taiwan, a nonprofit District of Columbia corporation, and constitutes neither recognition of the Taiwan authorities nor the continuation of any official relationship with Taiwan.
  2. Republic and Slovak Republic. The Treaty with the Czech and Slovak Federal Republics entered into force on December 19, 1992; entered into force for the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic as separate states on January 1, 1993.
  3. The Convention of 1826 does not apply to the Faroe Islands of Greenland. The treaty which entered into force on July 30, 1961 does not apply to Greenland.
  4. The Treaty which entered into force on December 21, 1960 applies to the departments of Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Reunion.
  5. The Treaty which entered into force on October 30, 1953 was made applicable to the Bonin Islands on June 26, 1968 and to the Ryukyu Islands on May 15, 1972.
  6. The Treaty which entered into force on December 5, 1957 is applicable to Aruba and Netherlands Antilles.
  7. The Treaty which entered into force on September 13, 1932 does not apply to Svalbard (Spitzbergen and certain lesser islands).
  8. The Treaty which entered into force on April 14, 1903 is applicable to all territories.
  9. The Treaty with the Netherlands which entered into force December 5, 1957 was made applicable to Suriname on February 10, 1963.
  10. The Convention which entered into force on July 3, 1815, applies only to British territory in Europe (the British Isles (except the Republic of Ireland), the Channel Islands and Gibraltar) and to "inhabitants" of such territory. This term, as used in the Convention, means "one who resides actually and permanently in a given place, and has his domicile there." Also, in order to qualify for treaty trader or treaty investor status under this treaty, the alien must be a national of the United Kingdom. Individuals having the nationality of members of the Commonwealth other than the United Kingdom do not qualify for treaty trader or treaty investor status under this treaty.
  11. The U.S. view is that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) has dissolved and that the successors that formerly made up the SFRY—Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)—continue to be bound by the treaty in force with the SFRY at the time of dissolution.
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