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Treaty Traders and Investors (E1 and E2 Visas)
 

The following information describes the two types of non-immigrant visas for persons wishing to invest in or trade with a company in the U.S.:

  • Treaty Trader visa (E-1)
  • Treaty Investor visa (E-2)

Please note that neither of these visas is a substitute for an immigrant visa. Persons wishing to remain indefinitely in the U.S. should apply for the appropriate immigrant visa.

The Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor visas were established to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the United States and other countries. They were not intended to serve as a means for foreigners to retire or merely reside in the United States. U.S. law (see paragraph 101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) explicitly states that E-1 visa holders must enter "solely to carry on substantial trade" and E-2 holders "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 trader/investor visas can be renewed or extended only if the investment or trade 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.

Proper Use of B1/B2 Visas and Visa Waiver Travel for Investors

Potential investors may seek out investment opportunities, sign contracts, and take other steps to purchase or establish a business while traveling on B1/B2 status or on the Visa Waiver Program. However, applicants may not develop and direct a business while in such status. State Department regulations state (9 FAM 41.31 N9.7), "an alien seeking investment in the United States, including an investment that would qualify him or her for status as an E-2 investor, is precluded from performing productive labor or from actively participating in the management of the business prior to being granted E-2 status." Such actions are impermissible whether or not the investor receives any payment for his work.

How to Apply

  1. Complete the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application. Click here for the DS-160. Click here for important information on the DS-160.
  2. Applicants for the Treaty Trader (E1) Visa must also complete the DS-156E. Click here for the DS-156E.
  3. Go to an American Express Bank Ltd Travel Related Services office, a participating branch of American Express, or Speedex in Pakistan (see a list of all the offices).
  • Pay the application fee of US$390 or Pakistani Rupee equivalent.
  • Submit the following:
  1. the one-page confirmation form (with legible barcode) from the DS-160,
  2. a current photo* (within the last 6 months) measuring 2" x 2" with white background. *Please ensure your photo has not been retouched or altered, otherwise your photo will not be accepted.
  3. photocopy of applicant's passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the planned date of entry to the
  • U.S.American Express will schedule an appointment time. All applicants age 14 and older must appear in person for the interview. There will be no exceptions to this requirement.
  • On the day of the scheduled interview applicants must arrive at the Diplomatic Shuttle Service, 3rd Avenue, near Quaid-e-Azam University Road, G-5, Islamabad to board the shuttle to the U.S. Embassy 30 minutes before their interview appointment. Applicants who arrive at the Diplomatic Shuttle Service more than 30 minutes before their interview may be asked to wait at the Diplomatic Shuttle Service.

Successful applicants will receive their passport and visa from the American Express branch where they submitted their application. Other applicants will have their passports returned following the interview.

Please do not send any documents or have sponsors send any documents directly to us. Due to the high volume of applications we receive, we are unable to match up faxed or mailed correspondence with applications. Further information on visa processing is available on the telephone 24 hours a day at 051-208-2700.

Spouse and Children Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require derivative E visas. If applying separately from the principal, a copy of the marriage certificate and/or birth certificate(s) for the child(ren) will be required. Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas.

E Visa Versus F-1

There is no requirement that the spouse and/or children of an E visa holder apply for a student (F-1) visa if they wish to study in the U.S.

Working on an E Visa

As a result of a recent change in the law, spouses of E visa holders may seek employment authorization on derivative E visas. For further information, please contact the USCIS on your arrival in the United States.

Time Limits

Holders of E visas may reside in the United States as long as they continue to maintain their status with the enterprise.

Further Inquiries

Additional information is available on the internet at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1273.html

Treaty Trader Visa Application (E-1)

Applications should be submitted with tabs dividing sections clearly. If you use plastic sheathes to protect documents, please do not place more than one piece of paper inside each one; otherwise, you will significantly lengthen the time it takes us to examine your case. Do not include multiple copies of any document.

Cover Letter Describing the Enterprise and the Beneficiary

The cover letter should address all the requirements for E-1 visa eligibility. These, which are described in depth in U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual (9 FAM 41.51), require the applicant to show:

  • that the requisite treaty exists (see N4);
  • that the individual and/or business possesses the nationality of the treaty country (see N3);
  • that the activities constitute trade within the meaning of the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101 (a) (15) (E) (see N4);
  • that the trade is substantial;
  • that the trade is principally between the United States and the treaty country (see N6);
  • that the applicant, if an employee, is destined to an executive/supervisory position or possesses skills essential to the firm's operation in the United States;(see N13) and
  • that the applicant intends to depart the United States when the E-1 status terminates (see N14). Please cover requirements 3, 4 and 5 in some detail.

Forms

  • Completed, dated, and signed DS-160 (with photograph attached) and DS-156 (page 4 of the DS-156E form provides detailed examples of supporting documentation needed for the application). Contact information provided on the DS-160 should include an e-mail address if possible.
  • If the applicant is not an investor but an employee, please include here a job letter from the company. This letter should describe:
  1. the business;
  2. the job the applicant will do; and
  3. his or her qualifications for that job.

Applicant Information

  • A copy of any changes or extensions of status granted by USCIS (Form I-797).
  • A resume or curriculum vitae of the principal applicant.

Ownership

  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations) or Organization (for LLC's) for US business.
  • Share certificates and/or operating agreement (as applicable) to verify ownership.
  • If you have a large company with several owners or subsidiaries or if the chain of ownership includes intermediary entities, please also submit the following:
  • An organizational chart of the full ownership structure;
  • Legal evidence of instances of ownership within that chain;
  • Color photocopies of the bio data pages of the passports of the owners of the ultimate parent company.
  • If the investor is a public company with many shareholders, none of whom owns more than 50%, please also include:
  • A copy of the most recent Annual Report, if any

Trade

  • Provide a spreadsheet listing every qualifying transaction of international trade between the treaty countries during the last calendar year. If there is a US entity with separate legal status (such as an incorporated company or a LLC), all figures should refer to its trade. Otherwise, consider the trade of the Pakistan company. This table should include the date, the invoice number, and the dollar value of the transaction. Show in a prominent place the total number and value of these transactions.
  • Provide copies of all the invoices summarized in the table.
  • Provide copies of all air bills or shipping invoices proving that the goods or services moved from one country to the other.
  • Calculate the percentage of international trade represented by the US-Pakistan trade documented above. This is not the percentage of total trade but the percentage of total international trade undertaken by the treaty investor business.
  • Provide the most recent US tax returns (for a US entity) or business plan (for a Pakistan entity). US tax forms must be copies of the signed and dated forms actually submitted to the IRS.

Treaty Investor Visa (E-2)

Applications must be submitted with tabs dividing sections clearly. If you use plastic sheathes to protect documents, please do not place more than one piece of paper inside each one; otherwise, you will significantly lengthen the time it takes us to examine your case. Do not include multiple copies of any document.

Table of Contents

Cover letter describing the enterprise and the beneficiary: This letter should address all the requirements for E-2 visa eligibility. These, which are described in depth in U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual (9 FAM 41.51), require the applicant to show:

  • that the requisite treaty exists
  • that the individual and/or business possesses the nationality of the treaty country
  • the applicant has invested or is in the process of investing;
  • the enterprise is a real and operating commercial enterprise;
  • the applicant's investment is substantial;
  • the investment is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living;
  • the applicant is in a position to develop and direct the enterprise;
  • the applicant, if an employee, is destined to an executive/supervisory position or possess skills essential to the firm's operations in the United States; and
  • the applicant intends to depart the United States when the E-2 status terminates.

Forms

  • Completed, dated, and signed DS-160 (with photograph attached) and DS-156E (PDF 148 KB) (parts 1, 2, and 3). Contact information provided on the DS-156 must include an e-mail address.
  • If the applicant is not an investor 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.

Applicant Information

  • A copy of any changes or extensions of status granted by USCIS (Form I-797).
  • A resume or curriculum vitae of the principal applicant.

Ownership

  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations) or Organization (for LLC's) for US business.
  • Share certificates and/or operating agreement (as applicable) to verify ownership.
  • If you have a large company with several owners or subsidiaries or if the chain of ownership includes intermediary entities, please also submit the following:
  • An organizational chart of the full ownership structure;
  • Legal evidence of instances of ownership within that chain;

Investment

  • 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;
  • 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 41.51 N8.103 for guidelines) that explicitly says where the money goes if the visa is issued, what happens when it does 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.
  • Evidence of any other funds spent to acquire and set up the business
  • If you are establishing a start-up business, 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;
  • evidence of payment of the franchise fee.
  • Investment spreadsheet. Evidence of investment is required, e.g., copies of debits from bank accounts, checks, invoices.

Real and Operating

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

Marginality

  • U.S. tax returns for business for the past three years. Taxes must include all statements and schedules. 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.
  • Start-up Business should also provide:
  • A business plan that analyzes the local market and competition and gives a 5-year projection of profit and loss. Projections must be backed up by external sources.
  • A breakdown of start-up costs necessary for the business to become operational.