E-1 Treaty Trader & E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

Houston E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Attorneys - Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham

Unlike the popular belief, foreign nationals who wish to invest in the U.S. do not necessary need $1,000,000, as required under employment-based fifth preference.  Investors can come to the U.S. and invest either as an E-1 Treaty Trader or an E-2 Treaty Investor visas.  E-1 Treaty Trader & E-2 Treaty Investor visas are non-immigrant visas which allow nationals of certain countries to come and invest in the United States and to remain here to manage and control such investments.   The investor can purchase existing businesses, creating new entities, or merging an existing foreign company to the U.S. company; so long as the merger satisfies all requirements for E visas discussed below.  The Houston E-2 Visa Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham. are experienced immigration lawyers that have assisted numerous companies around the world to invest in the U.S. through consular processing.  In addition, our West Houston E-2 Visa Attorneys assisted various E-2 Treaty Investors in the U.S. to extend and maintain their statuses through E-2 extension petitions with the USCIS.  Please contact our Houston E-2 Visa Lawyers should you have any questions regarding E-1 Treaty Trader or E-2 Treaty Investor visas.

Benefits of E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

Treaty visas are extremely useful because they allow nationals of “treaty countries” to come and invest in the U.S. with relatively small liquidity. Treaty Countries are those that have Treaties of Friendship, Commerce, & Navigation and/or Bilateral Investment Treaties with the U.S. Unlike many other non-immigrant visas, which limit the number of years that the foreign national can remain in the U.S., E-2 and E-1 Treaty visa holders can remain in the United Sates for an indefinite period of time, so long as they continue to control and to manage their businesses. Furthermore, dependents of Qualifying Applicants are also permitted to come and remain in the U.S. E-1 and E-2 dependents are spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. E-1 and E-2 dependent spouses may obtain employment authorization and work for any employer while in the U.S. Further, there is no restriction on the type of businesses that the foreign national may operate, even if such business is not within the same industry as the investor’s background and experience, or in the same line of business as the foreign company. Lastly, E-2 dependent children may attend public schools, including colleges and universities. Because E-2 visa holders must be treated as if such person are U.S. citizens, as required under the Treaties, E-2 dependent children pay in-state tuitions, instead of three times the amount by international student, such as an F-1 Student Visa Holder.

Special Advantages To International Employers Who Have Affiliates & Subsidiaries Abroad

E-2 Treaty Investor Visas can be especially advantageous to international employers. International employers who have offices abroad, but are qualified under E-1 or E-2 Treaty visas can transfer employees abroad to the U.S. Traditionally, in order for employers to transfer managers and essential employee from abroad to the U.S., they would have to file applications for L-1 Intracompany Transferee visas, which requires filing L-1 applications in the U.S. with the Department Homeland Security (DHS). Once the DHS approved the L-1 applications, DHS would transfer the applications to the U.S. Consular Offices abroad to schedule interviews. Such process is cumbersome, expensive, and time consuming. With E-2 Treaty Investor Visas and E-2 Treaty Trader Visas, employers would only have to file it once in the U.S. Consular office abroad. Even better is that if the employee is already in the U.S. under another status, he or she can file an E-2 application with DHS and receives a decision within 15 days through "premium Processing." Lastly, the E-2 employee does not have to be working for the employer for at least 1 year that is required under L-1. The employee can be a new employee or a potential employee. For these reasons, International employers should take advantage of E Treaty Visas to efficiently transfer managers and essential employees to the U.S. Please contact one of our Houston International Employee Transfer Attorneys and our U.S. E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Lawyers for assistance.

Procedures For Filing Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

E-1 Treaty Traders and E-2 Treaty Investors may apply for E visas through the U.S. consulate abroad.  The visa would allow the E visa holder the ability to travel back and forth to the home country, so long as the visa is still valid.  Foreign nationals who reside in third countries can apply for E-visas through “third Country Visa (TCV).  The third country visas allow foreign nationals in the U.S. or in a third country to file an E visa at the third country, such as Canada and Mexico.  However, recent regulation does not permit the TCV applicant to reenter the U.S. within 30 days from the date of denial.  Thus, if the E visa through a third country is denied, the person cannot enter the U.S. even if the person has a valid I-94 obtained previously.

Those that are currently in the U.S. can also file for an E2 Treaty Investor or an E1 Treaty Trader “visa status” with the USCIS while in the U.S.  That is, if you are currently under another non-immigrant visa, such as an H-1B Specialty Worker Visa or a B-1 and B-2 visitor visas, you may change your status to an E visa category by filing in the U.S. with CIS.  The difference between an actual visa, issued by the U.S. Consulate, verses a visa-status, issued by the USCIS, is that a visa allows the foreign national to travel  back and forth from the home country and the U.S. to manage and control his/her businesses.  On the other hand, the visa-status in only confers the applicant the rights and privileges of a visa, but such status is determined to have been abandoned once the person leaves the U.S.  As such, prior to leaving the U.S., it is advisable that foreign national who only has visa status from the USCIS file and obtain a travel document (advance parole) prior to leaving the U.S.  Alternatively, the foreign national can also file the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa with the U.S. consulate abroad subsequent to leaving the U.S.  The person must be mindful that the visa application process can take up to a couple of months, even if without complications.

How Can an E-2 Treaty Investor Stay in The U.S.?

As stated above, an E visa holder may stay in the U.S. indefinitely, so long as the person continues to stay in the U.S. to control and to manage his or her investment. However, the visa holder is required to file extensions with every 2 years to ensure that the investor is still qualified under such category. The initial E-1 and E-2 Visa is usually valid for 2 years; though, the U.S. Consular Offices have previously issued E-2 Treaty Investor Visa for up to 5 years. However, at the end of the initial period, the visa holder will need to file for extensions. If the foreign national maintains statuses, the USCIS usually issue E-2 approvals that are valid for 2 years. As such, it is important that the E visa holder maintain valid status and continue to operate and to manage his or her investment in the U.S. The Houston E-2 Visa Attorneys and the West Houston E-2 Visa Attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham. will assist you in maintaining and presenting records for your E-2 Extension applications. Please call our Houston E-2 Treaty Visa Attorneys at 713-517-6645 to file a E-2 visas or to file E-2 extension and extend your E-2 status.

Requirements For E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

  1. A Treaty must exist between the U.S. and the applicant’s country of nationality – A Friendship, Commerce Treaty, and Navigation and Commerce Treaty or a Bilateral Investment Treaty must exist between the foreign country and the U.S.

  2. The "Qualifying Applicant", whether the person is the “qualifying investor” or an employee of the Qualifying Investor, must be a national from a Treaty Country

  3. The company must be a "Qualifying Enterprise" under the treaty. To be a qualifying enterprise, at least 50% of such company must be owned by the foreign investor.

  4. The company must be a "Qualifying Enterprise" under the treaty. To be a qualifying enterprise, at least 50% of such company must be owned by the foreign investor.

  5. The Qualifying Investor Must Have Control And Management of His Investments.  The U.S. Department of State (DOS) proposed regulations state that a de facto control, based on voting rights, can satisfy the “control” requirement.

  6. Similar to many other non-immigrant categories, an E-2 Treaty Investor must demonstrate that he or she intend to depart the U.S. should their status end (i.e. the qualifying investment ceases to exists).  However, the E visa applicant need not show a foreign residence or request a specific amount of time because the E visa, theoretically, can be indefinite. 

  7. The beneficiary, either the “qualifying investor” or the “qualifying employee” must demonstrate that he or she has the experience, skills, and qualifications to ensure the successful management and operation of the investment, U.S. company.

  8. Lastly, the investment must be “at risk.” The U.S. Consular Office and the USCIS will scrutinize this requirement to ensure that:

  • This investment must be a personal investment, such as a personal loan and not a business loan or a mortgage

  • The investment must be "Substantial" to ensure the successful operation of your investment. There is no set number or percentage that quantify substantiality. Rather, substantiality is measured based upon the type of investment. In some cases, a small amount of investment, $50,000 to $75,000 could be sufficient. In other cases, $1,000,000 may be required for a large business operation, such as a hotel purchase, car dealership, or a large franchise restaurant. Please consult the experienced Houston E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Attorneys and the U.S. E-2 Treaty Visa Lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham. if you have any question regarding meeting the substantiality and the "at risk" requirements.

  • Finally, the investment is not a “passive investment,” in which the investor intended as the main Qualifying Investor's main source of income.  Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham’s experienced Houston and Dallas Texas E-2 Treaty Investor Attorneys assisted numerous clients in meeting this requirement in starting a new business, even when such the Applicant or Investor is still living abroad. Please contact our Houston E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Law Office for more information.

As stated above, E-1 Treaty Trader Visas and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas have many advantages over other nonimmigrant visas. However, the U.S. consular office the USCIS will review each requirement carefully to determine whether the investing company is a “qualifying company” and whether the foreign national is a “qualified investor” or that the E-2 employee is qualified under the proposed position. The evidence must be specific and shows that it met all requirements discussed above. Should you have any questions regarding E-1 Treaty Trader Visa or E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, we invite you to contact one of our experienced U.S. E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Lawyers or obtain a personal consultation.


Immigration Law is a vast area of law and every situation is unique. You should NOT rely on the limited information on this general site in replacing a personal consultation with an experienced Houston Immigration Lawyer.  There may be legal issues, depending on the facts and circumstances, in which you may not be aware. Please contact the Houston E-1 Treaty Trader Attorneys and the West Houston E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Lawyers of the Law Offices of Steven Tuan Pham at 713-517-6645 , or complete our Contact Form.

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