THE E nonimmigrant visa category allows nationals of countries who are a party to certain treaties with the United States to receive visa benefits in order to invest in a US business or conduct trade between the foreign treaty country and the US. The Philippines entered into such a treaty with the US as of September 5, 1955, thereby entitling Philippine nationals to receiving E nonimmigrant visas.
An individual is entitled to obtain an E-1 treaty trader visa if he is substantially conducting trade primarily between the US and the foreign country. An individual is entitled to an E-2 treaty investor visa if he is seeking to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he has invested or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. Certain employees of an E-1 treaty trader or E-2 investor may also obtain E visas.
The requirements for the E-1 treaty trader visa are as follows: (1) The applicant must be a national of a treaty country; (2) The trading firm sponsoring the applicant must have the nationality of the treaty country; (3) The international trade must be “substantial” in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade, regardless of the size of the company; (4) The trade must be principally between the US and the treaty country, which means that more than 50% of the international trade involved must be between the US and the country of the applicant’s nationality; (5) Trade means the international exchange of goods, services or technology, which can include activities such as international banking, insurance, monies, transportation, tourism, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, technology and its transfer, and some news gathering activities; and (6) The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Applicants for an E-1 visa who trade in goods should be able to submit documentation such as bills of lading, customs receipts, letters of credit, insurance papers documenting commodities imported, purchase orders, carrier inventories, trade brochures, sales contracts, and other traditional business documents. Applicants for an E-1 visa who trade in services should be able to submit documentation such as a summary or audit of international accounts and transactions, and, if necessary for verification, contracts demonstrating the nature of the trade/service activity, the value/cost of such activity, the time of performance of these activities, as well as other conditions of the transaction.
To qualify for an E-2 treaty investor visa, the following requirements must be met: (1) The investor, whether a person or corporation, must be a national of a treaty country; (2) The investment must be substantial based on a “proportionality test” that compares the amount of funds invested against the fair market value of the established business; (3) The investment must be active and at risk, not merely speculative or idle; (4) The investment may not be marginal, which means that it must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the US; and (5) The investor must be coming to the US solely to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity, and must also be the same nationality as the principal alien employer.
The spouse and unmarried minor children of E-1 and E-2 visa holders are also eligible to obtain E-1 and E-2 visas to reside with the principal visa holder in the US. Spouses are also eligible to obtain work authorizations that allow them to work for any employer.
Individuals granted an E-1 or E-2 visa are generally given authorization to remain in the US for periods of two years. An unlimited number of extensions are available at two-year increments so long as the trade or investment is still ongoing. Accordingly, individuals can receive the benefit of working and residing in the United States for a lengthy period of time based entirely on their hard work, dedication and effort.
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