E-1 / E-2 Visas
The most convenient way to get the opportunity to be legally present and run a business in the United States (US) is via a Category E visa. This category is applicable to citizens of the countries whose governments have signed the Agreement on Trade and Maritime Shipping (E-1) or the Treaty on Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments (E-2).
To date, such agreements have been signed by:
Albania, Argentina Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium.
Read the full list of signatory countries here.
E-1 and E-2 visas are nonimmigrant ones, i.e. you must declare your intention to return when you obtain them. In this regard, they are disadvantageous if compared to L-1 visas.
E1 visas are for those who already have active trade business with US residents and who are going to continue and develop this business as the residents of the US E1 visas are also suitable for those who have a business project on trade development between their country and the US.
E2 visas are for those who do not have any business contacts with US residents, but who aim to move to the US to start a business and have already obtained business development and financing. The E2 is a perfect option for both startups and investors.
If your country is not included to the E-1/E-2 lists, you can still move to the US on the basis your investment in the US but to do so, you need to consider obtaining another type of visa.
Learn more about visas
- E-1 Conditions
- E-2 Conditions
- Visa validity period
- Terms and application deadlines
At the time of application, you must own a company that conducts export-import commercial transactions with the US. If you do not have an operating company, then you must have a detailed marketing plan showing the potential of your trading idea and be able to provide the necessary permits, e.g. licenses or certificates.
You must be able to demonstrate one of the following conditions:
- preparation to start a business
- owning a company in the US
- willingness to acquire an existing business.
Money must also be transferred to the company’s account and the first steps taken to implement the business project. The US law states: “…the amount of investment that will allow the business to become operational“. The amount of investment for this type of visa is not defined, but should be in the region of $100.000.
Visa validity period
E-1 and E-2 visas are issued for a period of two years. Visas can be extended an unlimited number of times. This allows you to live in the US as long as your business is successful and provides a livelihood for yourself and any dependents.
Your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 travel with you on the same E-1 or E-2 status. The spouse can get a work permit without any restrictions. Children will be able to get the education they need, with secondary education in public educational institutions free of charge.
Beginner startup businesses are eligible for several opportunities. If you have an active project, you can scale up your business and establish an office in any US state. The investor can then initiate the process of obtaining visas for his/her employees. Any employees must be of the same nationality as the investor and be highly qualified.
By obtaining an E-1/E-2 visa you save both time and money. There is no need to submit a petition to the immigration authorities in the US. We will be responsible for the preparation of the required documents and their submission to the nearest US Consulate.
Terms and application deadlines
It usually takes from two to three months to set up a business and prepare a set of documents. 2-3 weeks after submitting the documents to the Consulate you should expect to be invited for an interview. In this case it is advised to prepare for this interview well in advance of this date.