The E1 Visa allows individuals, or employees of companies, to enter the US for the purpose of carrying out international trade. The definition of trade may apply to the trade of goods or services.
The advantages of E Visas
- E1/2 visa applications can be filed directly with the US Embassy in London.
- E visas can be extended indefinitely in increments of up to five years.
- E1/2 spouse can apply for work authorization (children cannot get work authorization as E2s).
- It is not a requirement that the applicant have worked with the foreign company, although this is always an advantage, particularly in demonstrating skills and knowledge in the specialist category.
- No prevailing wage issues apply as in H1B petitions (the prevailing wage is defined as the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in the requested occupation in the area of intended employment).
Based on its investment in the US, an individual investor or company may qualify for E2 treaty investor status that will greatly facilitate the transfer of staff to its US offices. An E visa is based upon a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation or a bilateral investment treaty between the US and country of which the applicant is a national.
The first step in this process is for the company to apply at a US Embassy to be registered with treaty investor status. This is possible where a foreign company or individual has invested a substantial sum into the United States and owns a minimum of 50% of the US company.
Once the company registration application has been approved (which will normally be for a two to five year period), the company or individual investor will be permitted to transfer appropriate employees (whether existing employees of the group or not) to a US subsidiary to work for up to five years on an E‑2 visa.
To qualify for an individual E‑2 visa, an employee must be hold the same nationality at the investor company, and have executive, managerial or supervisory status, or must have specialist skills essential to the US business. The individual visas are issued for a period of up to 5 years.
A treaty investor registration is renewable every two to five years, and similarly, individual E‑2 visas for employees are also renewable.