Services Spotlight: E-1 and E-2 Visas

By Lynn Greening, Attorney

E visas, which are categorized as E-1 and E-2 visas, provide an effective pathway for individuals to come to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested or are in the process of investing.

Who Qualifies?

The basis of the E-1, or “treaty trader” visas, and E-2, or “treaty investor” visas, is the existence of a treaty between the U.S. and another country. Thus, the fundamental qualification for an E-1 treaty trader or E-2 investor visa is that the applicant possesses the nationality of the treaty country. Many of the treaties associated with E-1 and E-2 visas date back decades, and in some cases, to the 19th century. The related treaty with Colombia, for instance, was established in 1848, while the treaty with Iran was ratified in 1957.

Determining Nationality

A national of a treaty country is eligible for E status. However, determining nationality can be a bit complex, as countries have different laws governing nationality. In some countries, for instance, being born within the country’s jurisdiction does not necessarily mean that an individual is a national of that country. Even nationals of a treaty country who also hold United States citizenship or who are U.S. lawful permanent residents are not considered nationals of the treaty country for the purposes of E eligibility. Accordingly, the nationality laws of the treaty country and the language of the treaty must be examined to determine whether an individual qualifies for E status.

When dealing with a business, nationality is determined by the nationality of the individual owner(s) of that business. A business that is at least 50-percent owned by nationals of the relevant treaty country is eligible for E status. If the company is publicly held, the place of incorporation is the place of nationality.

Additional Considerations

Another important aspect of E visas to consider is whether or not there are sanctions against the country of nationality or against institutions that may be involved with the relevant trade or investment. While certain treaties are still in effect, relations between the U.S. and corresponding countries may have changed since ratification. For example, the relevant treaty with Iran is still in effect, yet Iran is also the subject of sanctions that prevent trade between it and the U.S. Scrutinizing any and all banks involved in the trade or investment is just as crucial in order to ensure that capital involved does not stem from a sanctioned financial institution. While Russia itself is not a treaty country, there are two major, sanctioned Russian banks with subsidiaries that may need to be considered, especially for nationals of countries in the Eurasian region. 

Difficulties can also arise when the ownership or structure of a business changes. If an owner gives up his or her nationality, it has the potential to result in the invalidation of related E visas. Similarly, mergers and acquisitions can change circumstances in such a way as to disqualify a business from meeting the requirements for an E visa.

It is also worth pointing out that while one can change to E status within the U.S. by petitioning through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), travel outside the U.S. would require those individuals to go through the full E visa application process at a consulate to obtain an E visa to re-enter the U.S. The consulates give no weight to the preliminary USCIS decision to grant an E visa. Thus, these cases are treated as if the individual is applying for a new E visa, and run the risk of a possible denial based on a consular officer’s assessment of the case. In short: the granting of E visa status by USCIS does not guarantee the approval of an E visa at a consulate abroad.

Our Firm is Here to Help

In addition to the above, there are several issues that should be considered when applying for an E visa. Over the past two decades at Zhang & Associates, our experienced immigration attorneys have successfully represented numerous E visa beneficiaries. If you are interested in an E visa, click here to contact us today.

For more information on the E visa category, click here.

Former U.S. Consular officer, Attorney Sechyi Laiu joined Zhang & Associates, P.C. on June 26, 2017

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu specializes on Consular Processing cases and business development. Attorney Laiu also focuses on TN visas, E visas, CBP administrative proceedings (monetary confiscation, deferred inspection), and overseas financial compliance.

Prior to joining Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu worked for the U.S. Department of State as a Chinese and Portuguese speaking diplomat. As a consular-coned officer who served in Vancouver (Canada), Shenyang (P.R. China), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Attorney Laiu processed over 30,000 visa cases and worked in every section of Consular Affairs overseas (Fraud Prevention Unit, Immigrant Visas, Non-Immigrant Visas, and American Citizen Services).

He will use his experience and expertise to deliver the highest quality of service to our clients.

Founded in 1996, Zhang & Associates, P.C. offers legal services to clients worldwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled over ten thousand immigration cases.

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., our attorneys and supporting professionals are committed to providing high-quality immigration and non-immigration visa services. We specialize in NIW, EB-1, EB-5, PERM, I-485 I-130, H-1B, O, L and J cases. In the past twenty-one years, we have successfully helped over ten thousand clients get green cards. If you plan to apply for a green card, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang ( for a free evaluation.

Zhang & Associates, P.C.

Silicon Valley New York Los Angeles ChicagoHouston Austin Seattle  Palo Alto MadisonHonolulu

Tel: 1-800-230-7040, 713-771-8433