With ever-shifting international trade treaties reshaping international trade, it is essential for successful investors and international businesses to know the ins and outs of pursuing trade in the United States. E visas encourage international trade and investment for foreign nationals entering the United States from listed U.S. Department of State treaty countries. E1-visas are issued for those foreign nationals coming from countries listed as treaty traders, and E2-visas are reserved for those entering from investor countries.

E-2 visa application requirements

To obtain an E-2 visa, a treaty investor must meet certain criteria:

  • is a national of a country that has a commerce and navigation treaty.
  • invests or has invested substantial capital in an enterprise in the United States.
  • is entering the United States for the express purpose of developing and directing the investment enterprise, through 50% or more ownership or other controlling interest.

Employees of treaty investors may also obtain E-2 visas by meeting specific criteria:

  • is of the same nationality as the principal foreign employer.
  • is an employee by relevant law.
  • has special qualifications or has executive or advisory duties in the organization.

Foreign investment in U.S. communities

E-2 visas are generally granted in two-year increments, and there is no limit to the number of extensions that the non-resident alien can obtain as long as the they continue to meet the requirements. Foreign nationals who obtain E-2 visas may bring their immediate family, which includes the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. The spouse is permitted to work while living under this status, although the children may not.

The direct benefits of Foreign Direct Investment, or FDI, to U.S. communities are substantial. FDI brings capital, job creation, the sharing of technology and knowledge, and a wide promotion of products. In the metropolitan Phoenix area, foreign-owned businesses account for 91,340 jobs, and the 1,056 foreign employers make up 5% of the area’s businesses.

Foreign investors are encouraged to continue doing business in the United States, and an E-2 visa can be a relatively simple process for them. However, the recent regulation changes in the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2020 may make filing declarations or notices a little trickier. Learning about the current landscape for international investors can help to avoid delays or complications with the immigration process.