What is an E visa?
The E Visa allows for a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce to come to the United States to carry on trade-including services or technology-principally between the United States and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operations of a business in which the national has invested, or will invest a large sum of capital.
- A list of countries with which the United States has an eligible treaty can be found at the following link: http://travel.state.gov/visa/reciprocity/list_of_treaty_countries.htm
Types of E visas
There are the Treaty Trader visa (E-1), Treaty Investor (E-2), and Australian Specialty Occupation (E-3) visas. For E-1 visas the applicant/trading firm must be a national of a treaty country. (See list at the link above), the international trade must be “substantial;” i.e., there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade, and the applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm.
- E-2 visas the investor must be a national of a treaty country. (See list at the link above), the investment must be substantial (at least 50% ownership), and must generate significantly more income than just enough to provide a living for the investor and family, the investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk, and the investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise or he/she must be employed in as supervisory, executive, or highly specialized capacity.
- E-3 visas are specifically for Australian nationals and like H-1B visas it is for those that will be working in a specialty occupation.
Obtaining an E visa
Most E cases will originate at the alien’s consular post abroad and do not require prior petition approval from the USCIS, unless the alien is seeking a change of status or extension of stay.
The maximum period of validity for the E-1 visa will depend upon the country of the alien’s nationality, and is shown in the above-referenced list online. An E-2 nonimmigrant (including dependents) may be admitted for an initial period of no more than two years at a time. For E-3 visas the initial period of validity is two years and can be extended indefinitely.
The spouse and dependent children of an E-1 visa recipient are entitled to the same classification of the principle alien (i.e., an E-1 visa) and are permitted to engage in incidental activities, such as tourism or attending school. Spouses of E-2 holders are eligible for an open market employment authorization document (EAD) which allows them to work for any employer. Spouses of E-3 holders receive the same classification even if they are not an Australian national and are eligible for EAD authorization.