Treaty Trader

Treaty Trader visas (E-1) and Investor visas (E-2) are non-immigrant visas for nationals of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation who wish to go to the United States for one of two purposes: to carry on substantial trade, principally between the United States and the treaty country (E-1); 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 (E-2).  Check here for the detailed list of visa requirements.

The Treaty Trader and Investor visas were established to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the United States and other countries. They were not intended to serve as a means for foreigners to retire or merely reside in the United States. U.S. law (see paragraph 101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) explicitly states that E-1 visa holders must enter “solely to carry on substantial trade” and E-2 holders “solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise” in which he or she has invested. Moreover, these visas are non-immigrant visas and thus temporary. Trader/investor visas can be renewed or extended only if the investment or trade continues to meet all applicable requirements of U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Persons wishing to remain indefinitely in the United States should apply for the appropriate immigrant visa.

The Treaty

The United States and Mexico entered the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. In order for it to apply to an E visa application, citizens of Mexico must own at least 50% of the business and must actively develop and direct that business.

Where can I apply?

For E-1 visas, you may apply at the U.S. Consulates General in Monterrey or Tijuana. For E-2 visas, you may apply at the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez.

Length of Visa

The maximum length for which an E-1 or E-2 visa can be issued to a principal applicant who is a citizen of Mexico is 1 year.

Change of Status

Investors who have changed status in the United States with USCIS must follow the steps for all first-time investors. Such a change of status remains valid only while the applicant remains in the United States. Once the applicant has left the United States, he or she requires an E visa to return and resume the running of his or her business. Change of status does not guarantee the issuance of a visa nor does it exempt the investor from the normal process of filing documents in advance with the appropriate consulate.

Proper Use of B1/B2 Visas and Visa Waiver Travel for Investors.

Potential investors may seek out investment opportunities, sign contracts, and take other steps to purchase or establish a business while traveling on B1/B2 status or on the Visa Waiver Program. However, applicants may not develop and direct a business while in such status. State Department regulations state (9 FAM 41.31 N9.7), “an alien seeking investment in the United States, including an investment that would qualify him or her for status as an E-2 investor, is precluded from performing productive labor or from actively participating in the management of the business prior to being granted E-2 status.”

Such actions are impermissible whether or not the investor receives any payment for his work.

For guidance on the procedures and requirements for obtaining an E visa, please click on the appropriate link below: