The E-1 and E-2 Visa for the Status of Importer/Exporter and Investor. –

The “E” visa will allow foreign citizens of designated countries to be eligible for the status of the E visa as importer, exporter or investor.

In order to qualify as importer/exporter (E1) in the United States, a business person will have to trade goods or services and be able to manage the company.

At the present time, E1 visas are defined as the trading of goods and particular services such as banking services, financial services and within the airline industry.

However, the trading of goods and services has recently been extended with no specific restrictions as to type of goods or services, including the transfer of technology.

An individual can benefit from a non-immigrant E1 visa if:

1. He (or his company) are foreign nationals or a foreign corporate entity has at least 50% stock interest in the U.S. company.

2. He comes to the United States in order to transact multiple transactions (50% or more of gross volume of the U.S. company) between his home country and the United States;

3. He is involved in administrative operations or has specialized qualifications which are essential to the operations of the U.S. employer;

4. He leaves the United States upon expiration of his visa.
In order to qualify for an E2 investor visa, the investor must develop and manage the operations of a company in which he has invested or is in the process of investing a “sizeable” amount of money.


The E-2 Visa is the most popular option for foreign nationals who want to come to the U.S. to invest in an existing business or start their own business.

Virtually any legal activity qualifies for purposes of E-2 Visa classification.


An E2 visa can be issued if it has been ascertained by the U.S. Consulate that:

1. This person is a foreign national or that his U.S. company has 50% or more foreign shareholders;

2. The U.S. company in which he has invested, will invest or has already invested a “sizeable” amount of money (generally greater than $100,000 of risk capital) in a real commercial business in the United States;

3. That person has been appointed to administer the company or possesses specific qualifications which are essential to the functioning of the company; 4. His investment is not his only source of income;

5. His investment is real or is imminently in the process of becoming a reality; 6. That person will leave the United States upon expiration of his visa (generally up to 5 years).

Importer/exporter or investor visas can be obtained in any American Consulate or Embassy in the world, normally in the country of the last residence of the applicant.

The E visa can be delivered to companies belonging to one individual investor or to multinationals.

It is equally available for key personnel of companies which meet the investor requirements. Its approval time can vary, usually no greater than four months if there are no complications.

The E visas are generally issued for periods of 5 years and can be renewed indefinitely with Consular or State Department approval or revalidation.

They can be extended in the U.S. for 2 years by applying to the Immigration Service in the area where the head office of the company is located.

The importers, exporters and investors can live in the United States as long as they maintain their eligibility according to the requirements of the treaties.

Permanent residency, through use of the E-2 visa, is available only under very narrow circumstances and should be analyzed carefully before proceeding.