It is well known that citizens of certain countries may enter the United States to establish a trade relationship with their home country or to invest in the United States.  Few people, however, know that companies can establish the same relationship as the individual investor.  This novelty in the law allows for some very flexible opportunities and creates the capacity to move personnel quickly from abroad into the United States.

The E visa has two categories: the E-1 visa for treaty traders and E-2 visa for treaty investors.  Both are temporary, nonimmigrant visas for individual or company nationals of a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation, bilateral investment treaty, or some other arrangement that allows for an E visa.  The E visa category was established to facilitate economic interaction between the U.S. and designated countries. 

For E-2 investor visas, the applicant generally must be seeking a visa for one of these reasons:

  • to develop and direct the operations of a U.S. enterprise in which the foreign national has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital;
  • as a key employee from a designated treaty country who is executive or supervisor or whose services are essential to the efficient operation of the U.S. enterprise; or,
  • as a principal employer who is an enterprise that is 50% or more owned by treaty nationals.   

The E treaty investor can therefore be an individual or company, depending on the circumstances.  If an individual, the applicant must be a national of one of the designated treaty countries on the USDOS website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/fees/treaty.html. 

Example of Individual Investor: Mr. X, a national of Honduras, wishes to purchase an existing jewelry company in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a substantial amount and thereafter direct and develop temporarily the U.S. business as company President. 

Honduras is one of designated E visa treaty countries.  Mr. X could be an excellent candidate for an E-2 visa, assuming all other requirements apply including his investment amount is substantial under the proportionality test, his intent to stay in the U.S. is temporary, and he can document sufficiently that he has invested or is in the process of investing irrevocable funds.

Importantly, the E-2 treaty investor can also be a company.  In this case, the company must be an enterprise that is at least 50% owned by persons in the U.S. who are nationals of a treaty country and are maintaining E-2 status or who (if not in US) would be classifiable as an E-2. 

Example of Company Investor: Company Ltd. is a design services firm in Denmark that specializes in branding and digital advertising and wishes to establish a start-up company in San Francisco, California that will be directed by the foreign company’s President and CEO, who is also Danish, to oversee its expansion in the U.S. market.

The E-2 visa could be an excellent tool to facilitate Company Y’s expansion in the U.S. market. 

Wilson Law Group is knowledgeable and experienced in both business formation issues and immigration issues in order to help companies formulate successful strategies for establishing a related business in the U.S., advise on associated business issues, and prepare meticulously the E visa registration application thereafter for the company investor and President/CEO.

In the example of Company Y, for instance, WLG could facilitate the formation of a Limited Liability Company (“Company LLC”) in California, advise on the necessary documents thereafter for the E application, and see the process through until interview and CEO’s entry to the U.S.

The E-2 treaty application process can be very complex.  It is important to have knowledgeable attorneys working with you to develop a strategy that works best for you or your company.  We invite you to contact our office with your questions and interest in the E visa process by calling Wilson Law Group at 612-436-7100,