Tips to Applying for an E Visa

With the U.S. economy still recovering from the recession, foreign investors have tremendous opportunity in the U.S. markets for their investment dollars.  As a result, the Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas have become popular options for foreign nationals wishing to live and work in America.

I have been able to assist many individuals in the application process for an E Visa and have a few suggestions and information relating to the E-1 or E-2 Visa process.

  • The first step is to determine if the visa applicant is a national of a treaty country.   E-1 and E-2 Visas are only available for nationals of countries that the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with.   The applicant must be coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested (or is in the process of investing) a substantial amount of capital. Click here for a list of participating  Treaty Countries.

  • If applying outside the U.S., you must complete the Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) form per the requirements of your consulate post.  In 2009, a new, online NIV form (DS-160) was introduced to replace many existing forms.  The DS-160 is being phased in at posts across the globe.  (See our tips on completing the new DS-160.)  In most instances, E-Visa applicants must also complete the Form DS-156E.   If the applicant is in the U.S. in another valid non-immigrant status, the applicant can apply with USCIS for a change of status.

  • When applying for an E-2 Visa, applicants must show a substantial investment.  There is no fixed required investment amount, but as a general rule a minimum investment of at least $50,000 is recommended.  The business must also not be marginal.    You will need to demonstrate that the business will generate more than enough income to support you and your family.  The business must be shown to contribute to the U.S. economy by creating employment for U.S. workers.


  • At the time of the application, the investment must be active and the business must be in operation, or very close to being in operation.  You must be able to show that you are actively engaged in developing and directing the enterprise. Passive investments do not qualify.

  • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old, regardless of nationality, may apply to receive E dependent visa status.   Family members can study while in the U.S. and spouses can receive work authorization.  To remain in the U.S., after reaching the age of 21, dependent children will have to qualify for visas in their own right.  If they meet the requirements, they could apply to obtain student (F-1), investor (E) or professional (H-1B) status.