Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor Visa

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General Information

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. For a list of participating countries, consult the list of current Treaty Countries.

As Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor you must be coming to the United States to:

  • engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country; or
  • develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital.

Please note: All individuals seeking an E-Visa in Panama must be a Panamanian citizen or have permanent residency status in Panama.

For more information on business investment in the United States, see the U.S. Department of Commerce website SelectUSA.

Application Procedures

Step 1- Gather the Necessary Documents.

Prepare a documentary evidence package (i.e. the application package) in support of your application. Use the guidelines below for the type of visa you wish to apply for.

Step 2 - Request an Interview Appointment.

Pay the applicable visa fee, complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160), and request an E–visa appointment in that order. Selecting any other appointment category will only delay the process.

Step 3 - Await Instructions to Submit your Application Package.

After the Consulate receives your E Visa appointment request, you will receive an e-mail with instructions to deliver your application package. Application packages that do not comply with the guidelines below may be rejected.

Step 4 - Wait for an Appointment Date and Time.

The Consulate will review your document package. The review normally take 2-3 weeks. Once reviewed, you will receive an e-mail with the date and time for your interview with a Consular Officer. Please login in the system and schedule your E-visa appointment.

Step 5 -Attend your Interview Appointment.

Visit the U.S. Embassy on the date and time of your interview appointment. Bring with you a copy of your appointment letter and all current and expired passports. For any accompanying children under 18 please follow these guidelines.

The interviewing Consular Officer will adjudicate your application and inform you whether your visa is approved or not. If approved, your visa will be ready in three to five working days.

Guidelines for Treaty Trader (E-1) Visa Applications

All E-1 applications must be clearly divided into lettered or numbered sections in accordance with the guidelines below. Failure to follow them will delay the process. 

  Tab A or 1

Printed confirmation page from the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160). One 5X5 cm photo with a white background taken within the last six months

 Tab B or 2 Printed copy of completed Form DS-156E, Non-Immigrant Treaty Trader/Investor Application.
 Tab C or 3

Photocopies of the biographical page of the passport of each applicant (page with the photo, name, date of birth, etc.)

Photocopies of all prior US visas and copies of approved change of status notices (Form I-797).

 Tab D or 4

If applying with family members, documents attesting to the relationship (marriage and birth certificates, adoption, etc.)

 Tab E or 5

Cover letter describing company, position, and beneficiary. This letter must address all requirements for E visa eligibility as defined by the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) and U.S. law. It should address the following in detail:

  • that the trade is substantial, as defined in 9 FAM 41.51 N6 (to be documented in Tab G/7); and
  • that the trade is occurring principally between the United States and the treaty country,9 FAM 41.51 N7 (to be documented in Tab H/8); and
  • that the applicant, if an employee, will fill an executive/supervisory role or possesses skills essential to the firm’s operations, 9 FAM 41.51 N14 (to be documented in Tab I/9).

If the company has previously qualified for E visa status, please include the date of the initial qualification. Also, please include a paragraph concerning the applicant’s unequivocal intent to depart US when E status ends.

 Tab F or 6

Proof of treaty country ownership (at least 50%) and controlling interest in the enterprise.

Examples for corporations include: articles of incorporation, stock certificates and ledgers, Secretary of State certificates, etc.

Examples for other business organizations include: articles of organization/formation, state registration of ownership, etc.

 Tab G or 7

Evidence that enterprise is more than marginal.

All enterprises

  • IRS Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Tax Return, pages 1-2 for the four most recent fiscal quarters

Enterprise with 10 employees or less:

  • State wage record (ex. DE-6 or DE-9C) with names of all employees and quarterly salaries for the four most recent fiscal quarters
  • USCIS Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, pages 7-8 for each employee

If enterprise (including previous owners) has existed less than one year:

  • Sales invoices
  • Sales contracts
  • Bills of lading
  • Business plan for the next five years prepared by a certified C.P.A., including projected expenses and profits. The plan must verify the capacity of the enterprise to realize a profit within a maximum of five years (this is only a requirement for new businesses; it is optional for others).

If the enterprise (including previous owners) has existed longer than one year, provide the three most recent fiscal years (if applicable) of:

  • Corporation.
    • IRS Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return, pages 1-2
    • IRS Form 1125-A, Cost of Goods Sold, page 1 (if applicable)
  • Foreign Corporation
    • IRS Form 1120-F, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation, pages 1-3
    • IRS Form 1125-A, Cost of Goods Sold, page 1 (if applicable)
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
    • IRS Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income, pages 1-5
    • IRS Form 1125-A, Cost of Goods Sold, page 1 (if applicable) 
  • Private Ownership
    • IRS Form 1040, Individual Income Tax Return
    • Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, pages 1-2 of each
 Tab H or 8

Evidence that trade is principally between the US and the treaty country as defined by 9 FAM 41.51 N7. US customs invoices and/or purchase receipts may be submitted here, as well as a letter from a company officer certifying the following:

  • Percentage breakdown of company trade between
    • Any qualifying treaty country company / U.S. company
    • Qualifying treaty country parent company / other countries
    • U.S. company / other countries
  • Include both imports and exports
 Tab I or 9

Proof of applicant’s executive or managerial responsibility or essential skills. Please submit:

  • Applicant’s resume
  • Organization chart showing
    • Position in company
    • Direct subordinates of applicant
    • Persons being replaced
  • Evidence of executive, supervisory or specialized knowledge, education, experience, skills or training, such as certificates, diplomas or transcripts.
  • If the applying as an essential employee, evidence that employee has essential skills the enterprise urgently needs, as well as the projected duration of this essentially.

Guidelines for Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa Applications

All E-2 applications must be clearly divided into lettered or numbered sections in accordance with the guidelines below. Failure to follow them will delay the process.Guidelines for Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa Applications

  Tab A or 1

Printed confirmation page from the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160). One 5X5 cm photo with a white background taken within the last six months.

 Tab B or 2 Printed copy of completed Form DS-156E, Non-Immigrant Treaty Trader/Investor Application
 Tab C or 3

Photocopies of the biographical page of the passport of each applicant (page with the photo, name, date of birth, etc.

Photocopies of all prior US visas and copies of approved change of status notices (Form I-797).

 Tab D or 4

If applying with family members, documents attesting to the relationship (marriage and birth certificates, adoption or custody documents, etc.)

 Tab E or 5

Proof of treaty country ownership (at least 50%) and controlling interest in the enterprise. For example,

  • Sole ownership: shares/stock certificates, shares register indicating total and outstanding shares issued, minutes of annual shareholders meeting, etc.
  • Partnership: partnership or joint venture agreement, shares/stock certificates indicating total shares issued and outstanding shares, etc.
  • Corporation: shares/stock certificates indicating distribution of ownership, i.e., shares held by each firm and shares held by individual owners corporate matrix; if publicly traded on the principal stock exchange of a treaty country, a sample of recently published stock quotations; public announcement of corporate acquisition corporate chart showing head office and other subsidiary/branch locations in the U.S.; etc.
 Tab F or 6

Proof of the enterprise’s value and the source of the investment.

Existing enterprise: show the purchase price through tax valuations, market appraisals, etc.

New enterprise: show estimated start-up cost through trade Association Statistics, chamber of commerce estimates, market surveys, etc.

To prove the source of the investment you may provide:

  • Personal statement of net worth prepared by a certified accountant
  • Evidence of transactions showing payment of sold property or business (proof of property ownership and promissory notes) and rental income (lease agreements)
  • Voided investment certificates or internal bank vouchers and appropriate bank statement crediting proceeds
  • Debit and credit advices for personal and/or business account withdrawals
  • Audited financial statements
  • Annual report of parent company
  • Net worth statements from certificate professional accountants
 Tab G or 7

Proof that the funds have been invested or that they are in the process of being invested.

For an existing enterprise you may submit,

  • Escrow account statement and/or receipts
  • Signed purchase agreement (only the pages showing buyer and seller names, date of agreement, purchase price, percent ownership)
  • Closing and settlement papers
  • Mortgage documents
  • Loan documents
  • Promissory notes
  • Financial reports
  • Tax returns
  • Security agreements
  • Assumption of lease agreements (only the pages showing length of time, address of premises, size of property, lease amount, names of landlord and tenant, signature page)
  • Franchise agreement

For a new enterprise you may submit,

  • Inventory listing, shipment invoices of inventory, equipment or business related property
  • Receipts for inventory purchases
  • Canceled checks or official payment receipts for expenditures
  • Canceled check for first month's rent or full annual advance rent payment
  • Lease agreement (only the pages showing length of time, address of premises, size of property, lease amount, names of landlord and tenant, signature page)
  • Purchase orders (only the pages showing buyer and seller names, date of agreement, purchase price, percent ownership)
  • Improvement expenses
  • Initial business account statements
  • Wire transfer receipts
  • Franchise agreement
 Tab H or 8

Proof that the enterprise is a real and operating commercial enterprise.   You may submit:

  • Business license/business permits
  • Sales tax receipt
  • Utility/telephone bills
  • Business transaction records
  • Current/commercial account statements
  • Letters of credit
  • Invoices from suppliers
  • Advertising leaflets
  • Business brochures/promotional literature
  • Newspaper clippings
 Tab I or 9

Evidence that enterprise is more than marginal.

All enterprises

  • IRS Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Tax Return, pages 1-2 for the four most recent fiscal quarters

Enterprise with 10 employees or less:

  • State wage record (ex. DE-6 or DE-9C) with names of all employees and quarterly salaries for the four most recent fiscal quarters
  • USCIS Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, pages 7-8 for each employee

If enterprise (including previous owners) has existed less than one year:

  • Sales invoices
  • Sales contracts
  • Bills of lading
  • Business plan for the next five years prepared by a certified C.P.A., including projected expenses and profits. The plan must verify the capacity of the enterprise to realize a profit within a maximum of five years (this is only a requirement for new businesses; it is optional for others).

If the enterprise (including previous owners) has existed longer than one year, provide the three most recent fiscal years (if applicable) of:

  • Corporation.
    • IRS Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return, pages 1-2
    • IRS Form 1125-A, Cost of Goods Sold, page 1 (if applicable)
  • Foreign Corporation
    • IRS Form 1120-F, U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation, pages 1-3
    • IRS Form 1125-A, Cost of Goods Sold, page 1 (if applicable)
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
    • IRS Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income, pages 1-5
    • IRS Form 1125-A, Cost of Goods Sold, page 1 (if applicable)
  • Private Ownership
    • IRS Form 1040, Individual Income Tax Return
    • Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, pages 1-2 of each
Tab J or 10

Proof of applicant’s executive or managerial responsibility or essential skills. Please submit:

  • Applicant’s resume
  • Organization chart showing
    • Position in company
    • Direct subordinates of applicant
    • Persons being replaced
  • Evidence of executive, supervisory or specialized knowledge, education, experience, skills or training, such as certificates, diplomas or transcripts.
  • If the applying as an essential employee, evidence that employee has essential skills the enterprise urgently needs, as well as the projected duration of this essentiality.