The E visa can be a great way for foreign nationals not only to enter US markets, but also to secure long-term residence in the United States without having to go through the process of obtaining permanent residency.
While the requirements are many, here is a quick list of the top ten things to know about E visas:
E visa applicants must be nationals of a country with which the United States has a treaty of commerce and navigation. Check out the US Department of State’s list of treaty countries.
E-1 visas are for treaty traders. E-2 visas are for treaty investors. E1 treaty traders must be entering the US solely for the purpose of engaging in substantial international trade, either for themselves or for a foreign employer, and principally between the United States and the treaty nation from which the E-1 applicant hails. E2 treaty traders must be entering the US solely to develop and direct an enterprise into which he has invested, or is currently investing, asubstantial amount of capital.
For E-1 treaty traders, there is no minimum monetary value or volume for each trading transaction. While the monetary value of the trade item being traded is a relevant factor, USCIS gives greater weight to more numerous transactions of greater value.
For E-2 treaty investors, there is no minimum required investment. The investment need only be substantial in proportion to what it would cost to buy a business of the same nature, or start up such a business from scratch. Again, while there is no minimum investment, a good rule of thumb is a minimum investment of $100,000.
The more, the better.
If you are in the United States in one temporary status, and want to change status to an E visa, you can apply to do so, but you should try to maintain your previously accorded status while you wait for the E visa application to be decided. Even if you applied for change of status before your original I-94 expired, you are considered out of status when the I-94 expires, even if your application for change of status is still pending. In such a case, if USCIS approves the change of status, your new E status will be backdated to the expiration of your previously accorded status. If USCIS denies the change of status, you will need to depart the United States immediately.
If you are in the United States in some other status and want to change to E-1 or E-2 status, you are eligible to file for premium processing, which guarantees processing of the case within 15 calendar days. The premium processing fee is $1,225. If USCIS fails to process the case within 15 days, they will return the premium processing fee.
Both treaty traders and treaty investors, when applying for their respective E visas, must demonstrate intent to depart the US when their status expires or terminates. This can be accomplished through a sworn statement indicating as much submitted with the E visa application.
Initial E visa status is granted for a maximum of two years. Extensions of such status can also be granted in maximum increments of two years. There is no limit on the number of extensions that may be granted.
Dependent spouses of E visa principals can obtain employment authorization in the United States.
Subject to certain restrictions, E visa holders can use their status to employ other people, who will receive derivative E visa status. E visa employees must possess the same nationality as the principal E visa employer.