The Difference Between an E1 and E2 Visa

Getting a visa to the United States is not easy, but if you intend to immigrate to the United States for business purposes, an immigration lawyer can talk to you about the options described in this blog. If you can show that you have business knowledge, the drive, and monetary resources to run a business that will bring economic benefit to the US, as well as create employment opportunities for people living in the US, you can make a strong case and obtain a visa.

There are two types of visas available for business people and traders who wish to live and work in the United States and continue their businesses here. These visas are the E1 and E2 visas. If you’re confused as to which visa you should apply for, then continue reading to get all the information that you need to make your decision.

You will need the help of a good immigration lawyer to complete a strong visa application. You can call our office and speak to an immigration lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the process and will make sure that you don’t make any mistakes in the documentation requirements.

E1 Visa – Treaty Trader

The E1 visa, also known as Nonimmigrant Treaty Traders, is reserved for individuals and business people who wish to enter the United States, provided that they conduct trade between the United States and one of the treaty countries. The visa helps them stay in the US for extended periods of time so they can handle business operations from the US as well. While there are several requirements to be eligible for an E1 visa, the foremost one is that you have to be a national of one of the treaty countries, with an additional, vague requirement that there should be substantial international trade being carried out.

The E1 visa applies to business owners and other individuals involved in the business who are crucial to its operations. The processing time for an E1 visa is relatively short in order to facilitate traders from treaty countries to enter the US and run their operations from here. The US is relatively open to people who wish to enter the country to create employment opportunities for the American people, boost international trade for America, and inject money into the American economy.

Do I Qualify for an E1 Visa?

In order to qualify for an E1 visa, you need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • You have to be a national of an E1 treaty country
  • You have to carry out substantial trade between the US and the treaty country
  • You have to conduct principle trade with the US

Only nationals from the following countries qualify for an E1 visa. You can also to visit the US State Department Website by clicking here, to see a complete list.  The treaty countries include:

  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Austria
  4. Belgium
  5. Bolivia
  6. Brunei
  7. Canada
  8. China
  9. Colombia
  10. Costa Rica
  11. Denmark
  12. Estonia
  13. Ethiopia
  14. Finland
  15. France
  16. Germany
  17. Greece
  18. Honduras
  19. Iran
  20. Ireland
  21. Israel
  22. Italy
  23. Japan
  24. Korea
  25. Latvia
  26. Liberia
  27. Luxembourg
  28. Mexico
  29. Netherlands
  30. Norway
  31. Oman
  32. Pakistan
  33. Philippines
  34. Spain
  35. Suriname
  36. Sweden
  37. Switzerland
  38. Thailand
  39. The UK
  40. Togo
  41. Turkey
  42. Yugoslavia

While the American government hasn’t put a specific number to how much trade counts as substantial, it should be enough in the number of trade transactions being carried out and the monetary value being created out of it. The profit should also be enough for the trader to support himself and his family, if applicable, and emplyees.

Principle trade basically means that at least 50% of the trade happening should be between the US and the treaty country, making up for the majority of any trade business going on.

E2 Visa – Treaty Investor

The E2 visa, almost similar in almost all aspects, is distinct because it is specifically for people who want to start a business in the US, by investing money in the US economy. Many of the requirements are the same. Although it is not necessary that the individual need to have a business up and running already in another country, it can make a stronger case and showcase the individual’s ability and intention of running a business in the US as well. The individual needs to convince the immigration officers through his or her acumen, resources, and a business plan that the investor means to put into effect upon arrival in the US.

Do I Qualify for an E2 Visa?

In order to qualify for an E2 visa, you need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • You have to be a national of an E2 treaty country
  • You have to invest a substantial amount in the US business
  • You have to have the majority share in the business

The E2 treaty countries are:

  1. Argentina
  2. Armenia
  3. Australia
  4. Austria
  5. Bahrain
  6. Bangladesh
  7. Belarus
  8. Belgium
  9. Bosnia-Herzegovina
  10. Bulgaria
  11. Cameroon
  12. Canada
  13. China
  14. Colombia
  15. Congo
  16. Costa Rica
  17. Czech
  18. Ecuador
  19. Egypt
  20. Estonia
  21. Ethiopia
  22. Finland
  23. France
  24. Georgia
  25. Germany
  26. Grenada
  27. Honduras
  28. Iran
  29. Ireland
  30. Italy
  31. Jamaica
  32. Japan
  33. Kazakhstan
  34. Korea
  35. Kyrgyzstan
  36. Latvia
  37. Liberia
  38. Luxembourg
  39. Mexico
  40. Moldova
  41. Mongolia
  42. Morocco
  43. Netherlands
  44. Norway
  45. Oman
  46. Pakistan
  47. Panama
  48. Philippines
  49. Poland
  50. Republic
  51. Romania
  52. Senegal
  53. Slovakia
  54. Spain
  55. Sri Lanka
  56. Suriname
  57. Sweden
  58. Switzerland
  59. Thailand
  60. Togo
  61. Trinidad and Tobago
  62. Tunisia
  63. Turkey
  64. Ukraine
  65. United Kingdom
  66. Uzbekistan
  67. Yugoslavia

As with the E2 visa, the government hasn’t specified what amount is substantial enough to be invested, but it should be enough to support the day to day operations of the business and also support the individual, their family, and employees. Additionally, the individual must have already invested or should be in the process of investing a substantial amount of money in a genuine, bona fide enterprise.

The individual must also intend to enter the United States with the intention of starting, directing, and operating the business and should have a majority share of the business, i.e., 50% of the total shares of the business.

Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

Both types of visas require you to create substantial monetary value for the US, but the law does not specify the amount. If you wish to apply for either of the two visas, make sure you meet the requirements and opt for the right one.

If the subtle differences between the two are confusing you as to which one qualify and you should always get an immigration attorney to help you.  A good immigration attorney can help you make a strong application that can increase your chances of qualifying for an employment-based visa.

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