Treaty Trader & Investor Visas

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Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

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, select Treaty Countries.

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.

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

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Trade for Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor purposes – Examples:

These are some examples of types of enterprises that constitute trade under E visa provisions.

  • international banking
  • insurance
  • transportation
  • tourism
  • communications
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To qualify for a Treaty Trader (E-1) Visa

  • You must be a citizen of a treaty country.
  • The trading firm for which you plan to come to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise.
  • The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.
  • More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country.
  • Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other.
  • You must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.
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To qualify for a Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa

  • The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have the citizenship of a treaty country.
  • If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.
  • The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
  • It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
  • You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.
  • You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity.  Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply. 

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence. 

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

Where will you apply?

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Visa Wait Times
Nonimmigrant Visa Type Appointment Wait Time
Visitor Visa -- days
Student/Exchange Visitor Visas -- days
All Other Nonimmigrant Visas -- days

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees - Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview.  When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:

$205

  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements
  • Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor ApplicationForm DS-156E – This form is required for:
    • all E-1 treaty trader visa applicants; and
    • E-2 treaty investor visa applicants, if you are an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified.

Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa applicants must establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law and complies with the many requirements for the E visa category. The consular officer may provide you with special forms to complete for this purpose. You should expect that the consular officer will request additional documentation to determine your eligibility for a treaty trader or treaty investor visa. It is impossible to specify the exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly by applicant. For detailed requirements for this category, review 9 Foreign Affairs Manual 402.9 Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor.

Attend Your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. 

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by courier. 

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Extending Your Stay

See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

You must depart the United States on or before the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, unless your request to extend your stay is approved by USCIS.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in you being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of travelers who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). If you had a multiple-entry visa and it was voided due to you being out of status, it will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas you may apply for in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

While in the United States, you may be able to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

Requesting a change of status from USCIS while you are in the United States and before your authorized stay expires does not require that you apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the United States while USCIS processes your change of status request, you must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Additional Information

  • We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • Spouse and Children –
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date.  Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid.  If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

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Visa Denial and Eligibility

Review Visa Denials for detailed information about visa ineligibilities. denials, and waivers.

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Visa Renewal

Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply, above). Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Review the instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to determine if the IWP is available and if you qualify.

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Misrepresentation or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.

Review Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws.

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Further Questions

  • Case-Specific Questions - Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your visa application for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate for contact information.
  • General Questions - Review Contact Us.