Treaty Trader Investor Visas

Welcome

 

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.  The United States and Brazil do not have such a treaty, but if you are a Brazilian citizen who also holds dual citizenship from a country with which the United States does have a treaty, you may apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa.  For a list of participating countries, see Treaty Countries.

You must be coming to the United States to:

  • Develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital, or
  • Be employed to engage in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications which are essential to the efficient operation of an E-1/E-2 business.

You may apply for Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas at the U.S. Consulates in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

To apply for an E visa, the “principal applicant” who intends to work in the United States, must complete the form DS-160 and pay the online application fee(s).  Then, you must schedule an appointment at one of our Centros de Atendimento ao Solicitante de Visto (CASVs) to submit required biometric information (fingerprint scans and photograph).

  • To fill out the DS-160 form, pay the MRV fee, and schedule an appointment to submit biometrics, please visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-br/niv
  • The questions on the DS-160 are in English, but you can access a Portuguese translation by selecting “Portuguese” in the ToolTip dropdown menu in the upper right corner of the page.  Then, place your cursor over a phrase to see the translation.
  • You may apply for the E2 Visa in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. However, you may still visit the closest CASV to submit biometric information and photo.
  • For more information about the CASVs in Brazil, please visit: https://br.usembassy.gov/pt/vistos/centros-de-atendimento-aos-solicitantes-de-visto-casv/

– If you are applying for your E visa at the U.S. Consulate in São Paulo:

During your CASV appointment, you will provide a photograph and fingerprint scans. After that, you will e-mail your supporting documentation explaining your business proposal and the nature of your qualifying investment. Attention: the entire package should be approximately 100 pages and should be less than 20MB in size. Packages sent over the allowed limit will not be accepted and will delay your process. We do not accept zip files, online shared folders or scanned pages in the “2 pages in 1” format.

The following documents do not count towards the 100-page limit: Forms DS-160, DS-156E, G-28, appointment confirmation, civil documents, copy of passport bio-page, tabs/dividers.

Case review takes approximately ten business days after you submit the documentation electronically. As soon as your documents are reviewed, you will receive a notification with the date and time of your interview at the Consulate. Please do not schedule an interview before that time. Please send your documentation to: VistosESaopaulo@state.gov

Please review your submission before sending it to ensure that all documents have been scanned with sufficient resolution and are readable. Submissions that do not meet the above requirements will be returned to the sender, and may result in a postponement of the interview.

 – If you are applying for your E visa at the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro:

During your CASV appointment, you will provide a photograph and fingerprint scans, as well as printed supporting documentation explaining your business proposal and the nature of your qualifying investment.  Please note that you will not have an interview with a consular officer the same day as the CASV appointment.  After you submit the documentation packet at a CASV, the CASV will forward the packet to the consular section.  After approximately ten business days, once your documents are reviewed, you will be contacted and prompted to schedule a visa interview.  Please do not schedule an interview before that time.

We do not discuss prospective E-visa applications or respond to speculative questions on E-visa applications by telephone or by email.  Once an application has been submitted, we will communicate with the company’s attorney/ point of contact.

Please do not contact the Consular section for information on the status of your case.  You will be contacted for additional information or to schedule your interview.

If the principal applicant and/or any dependents have ever been arrested, cautioned, or convicted, it is necessary to send the court documents showing the charges, completion of all required activities, and the resolution of the case. This will not count towards the 100 page limit. More information can be provided only at the time of the interview.

Required forms such as MRV fee payment confirmation or forms G-28 do not count toward the 100-page limit.

Your submission should contain, at a minimum:

  • DS-160 form confirmation page for applicant and dependents;
  • DS-160 form confirmation page for each dependents, if applicable;
  • DS-156E form, summarizing the proposed or actual business operations;
  • A signed form G-28 if your legal representative will handle your case. This form can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/g-28;
  • Proof of qualifying derivative status (original marriage, birth and/or adoption certificates);
  • Photocopy of the data page of your passport from the country that makes you eligible for an E visa;
  • Photocopy of the data page of your derivatives, if applicable;
  • Supporting documentation organized by a table of contents;
  • Describe the proposed or actual operations of the business;
  • Accurately characterize the scope of the irrevocably committed investment;
  • Provide a detailed breakdown, with corroborating documentation, of that investment;
  • Demonstrate the ownership structure of the enterprise;
  • A detailed cover letter summarizing the applicant’s qualifications for an E-visa;
  • Financial documents detailing investment (i.e., bank records, checks, contracts of sale, leases);
  • Articles of incorporation for relevant business entities;

Please check a general suggestion for documentation package here: https://br.usembassy.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2016/12/E-visa-document.pdf

Documents in Portuguese do not need to be translated into English (i.e. tax documents, birth certificates, bank records, etc.).

If you have previously been issued an E-2 investor visa, you are applying under the same company for which your previous visa was issued, and you would like to renew this visa, please provide the following documentation:

  • Copies of the passports of all applicants
  • Visa application fee (MRV) receipt;
  • Form DS-160;
  • Form DS-156E;
  • The first two pages of the last two years of corporate tax returns in the United States;
  • Corporate tax return showing where the ownership percentage is outlined, or an independent auditor’s report of your financial statements; and
  • Most recent IRS Form W-2 for all employees and/or IRS Form 941 for the past year.

Please note the Consular Officer reserves the right to request additional documents based on their review of the application.

The procedures outlined here for dependent applications pertain only to qualifying family members who are applying separately from their respective principal applicant, and the principal applicant has been issued an E-visa by a U.S. consulate. In most cases, dependents are included when the principal applicant applies as a new case, renewal, or employee of a registered company.

If you are applying as a dependent (spouse or child under age 21) of a current E-visa holder, you should bring the following documents to the Consulate on the day of the interview (Rio de Janeiro only) or send the following documents by email (São Paulo only):

  • DS-160 confirmation page for all dependents;
  • Copy of MRV fee(s) receipt;
  • Copy of passport biometric information page;
  • A photocopy of the principal applicant’s E-visa; and
  • Proof of legal relationship between the principal applicant and any dependents, e.g., original government-issued birth and/or marriage certificates, adoption papers, etc. Notarized copies, religious documents, hospital records, and short form birth certificates that do not show parentage do not satisfy this requirement;

Please be aware that all applicants age 14 years and older as well as those under the age of 80 must appear for a personal interview.

Spouses holding a derivative E visa may seek employment authorization. Please contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) upon your arrival in the United States.

Qualifications for an E-1 Treaty Trader:

  • The firm in the US must have the nationality of a treaty country;
  • The applicant must be a national of the treaty country;
  • More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country;
  • The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade;
  • Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the another;
  • 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.

Qualifications for an E-2 Treaty Investor:

  • You must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
  • You must have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States; and
  • You must be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

An investment is the treaty investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails.  The treaty investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity.  See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(12) for more information.

To be considered substantial, capital investment must be:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one;
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise; and
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionally, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

A bona fide enterprise refers to a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit.  Such enterprise must meet applicable legal requirements for doing business within the jurisdiction with which it operates.

Marginal Enterprises

The investment enterprise may not be marginal.  A marginal enterprise is one that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his/her family.  Depending on the facts, a new enterprise might not be considered marginal even if it lacks the current capacity to generate such income.  In such cases, however, the enterprise should have the capacity to generate such income within five years from the date that the treaty investor’s E-2 classification begins.  See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(15) for more information.

The applicant must have the intention of departing the US upon the conclusion of the commercial activities. Nevertheless, holders of E-visas may reside in the US as long as they continue to meet E-visa qualifications.

General Qualifications for the Employee of a Treaty Investor:

  • Be the same nationality as the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country);
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law; and
  • Either engage in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

Duties which are of an executive or supervisory character are those which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it.  See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(17) for more information.

Special qualifications are skills which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the business. There are several qualities or circumstances which could, depending on the facts, meet this requirement. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations;
  • Whether others possess the employee’s specific skills;
  • The salary that the special qualifications can command;
  • Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States.

Knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet this requirement.  Note that in some cases, a skill that is essential at one point in time may become commonplace, and therefore no longer qualifying, at a later date.  See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(18) for more information.

I received a change of status from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Is that all that I need in order to receive an E-visa at your office?

No. Investors who have changed status in the United States with USCIS must follow the steps for all first-time investors. Such 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 must have an E-visa to return and resume the running of his or her business in the United States. A change of status does not guarantee the issuance of a visa, nor does it exempt the investor from the normal application process in advance of the consular interview.

Do I have to come to the U.S. Consulate to apply in person?

Yes. E-visa applicants must appear in person before a Consular Officer. One exception to this requirement is for applicants under 14 years of age; such applicants do not need to appear in person for the interview. However, in all cases, regardless of age, each applicant must be physically present in Brazil at the time of application.

I have previously been found ineligible for a U.S. visa. Can I still qualify for an E-visa?

Those applicants who are ineligible for a U.S. visa due to criminal convictions, immigration violations, drug charges or other similar reasons must appear to determine their ineligibility and likelihood of a waiver for any such ineligibility. Applicants requiring a waiver face a likely wait of several months for a waiver to be processed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Even if the applicant satisfies the requirements for E-visa issuance, there is no guarantee that a waiver of the ineligibility will be approved.

How much money do I need to invest?

E-2 visa regulations do not specify a minimum investment amount; however, the law does state that the investment must be “substantial and sufficient to ensure the success of the desired enterprise.” Different types of businesses require varied amounts of capital, and the amount you will need to invest depends on the nature of your enterprise in the United States.

Do I really have to invest the money before I apply for the visa? Can’t you issue me the visa first?

E-2 visa regulations require that the funds be “irrevocably committed” to the investment before the visa may be issued. This requirement can be met by showing that your funds are already at risk. Funds can also be considered to be irrevocably committed if they are held in an escrow account contingent only on the issuance of an E-visa.

How do I start a business if I don’t have the visa?

Many business activities can be carried out while you are in the United States in B-1 status. These activities include organizing and/or participating in client meetings and visiting premises, among other activities necessary to set up the business. However, you cannot be involved in running the daily operations of the business while in B1 status. If your enterprise requires someone to manage or run daily operations, you may hire U.S. citizens or individuals who are already legally allowed to work in the U.S. prior to receiving your E-visa. Once you have made the initial commitment of your funds, you should apply immediately for the E-visa.

Do I need an immigration attorney?

The decision to retain counsel is a personal one to be made by the applicant, and such decision does not affect the applicant’s eligibility.

Where can I get information about good places to invest in the United States?

SelectUSA is a U.S. Government web portal that contains useful information about locating a business or investing in the United States. You may also wish to contact individual state offices of economic development and local chambers of commerce for economic forecasts for specific cities and states.

What licenses and permits do I need to open and run a business in the United States?

Licensing and permit requirements in the United States fall mainly under state and local law, and vary with the type of business you wish to operate. For specific information, please contact the appropriate government offices in the locality where you plan to start your business.

I own an E-visa company and want to employ someone who is not in the United States. What kind of visa does my employee need?

As long as employees have the same citizenship as the owners of the E-visa-related company, they can qualify for an E-visa. The jobs they will be performing must be executive or supervisory in nature, or the employees must possess skills essential to the operation of the U.S. enterprise.

My spouse and/or children are citizens of a country other than my own. Can they still accompany me?

The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of E-1 and E-2 visa holders may also receive E-visas in order to accompany or follow-to-join their spouse or parent. They are not required to have the same nationality as the principal applicant. E-1 and E-2 dependents may book appointments to process their visa applications at the Consulates in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. However, dependents may process their visas only if the principal applicant’s visa has already been issued. The dependent applicant must present a copy of the principal applicant’s visa at the time of the interview.

Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but wish to visit for vacations only, may:

1) be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas, or

2) if qualified, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

My spouse would like to work while in the United States. Is an E-1/E-2 visa appropriate for that?

Spouses may work in the United States if they have obtained an Employment Authorization Card from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They may apply for this card after they enter the United States. Dependent children may not work in the United States – although they may attend school.

I was interviewed for a visa and told that I am otherwise qualified, but that my case will require administrative processing before the visa can be issued. How long will that take?

Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement at the time of their interview and will be advised on the estimated amount of time for processing to be completed. In general, most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. The consulate has no control over the time it will take to complete the necessary administrative processing. Visa applicants are reminded to apply for their visa well in advance of their anticipated travel date.

How do I replace a lost, stolen, or damaged E-visa?

If you were issued an E-visa at the U.S. Consulate in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and subsequently have had the visa lost, stolen, or damaged, please e-mail us for instructions on how to apply to replace your visa at VistosESaopaulo@state.gov or visario@state.gov. Please be prepared to provide a statement describing the circumstances in which your E-visa was lost, stolen, or damaged. Additionally, if your E-visa has been stolen, you will be required to submit a police report.

Can I request an expedited appointment for my E-visa application?

We receive many requests for expedited processing of E-visa cases due to business-related purposes. Expedited appointments are generally reserved for cases in which there is an acute humanitarian need for urgent travel to the United States. The Department of State does not provide premium or expedited processing for an additional fee.

Can I make an escrow agreement with myself?

We understand an escrow agreement to entail a distinct “buyer” and “seller,” and to involve the transfer of ownership of some asset. An escrow agreement in which an applicant is both parties (buyer and seller) and does not involve the purchase of a tangible asset does not entail risk, and therefore cannot be a qualifying investment for E-2 purposes.

My previous E application was denied. Can I apply again?

A refusal under section 214(b) for an E applies only to that visa and that specific application. If an applicant believes he/she is qualified for an E Visa, he/she may apply again. However, any subsequent re-application should focus on overcoming the reason for the previous refusal.

I possess an E-visa eligible nationality but do not yet have the relevant passport. Can I apply for E-visa now?

No. You must be able to demonstrate that you possess the nationality of a treaty country in order to apply for an E visa, which is done by means of a valid passport from the country in question.

I submitted my packet 10 days ago and have not heard back. I have a flight tomorrow.  Can you help me? 

Due to a variety of factors, we are unable to provide a precise estimate of how many days your case will remain under review.  Therefore, we strongly suggest that you keep your travel plans flexible.

Can I send my documents by email to request my E-3 visa?

No. The E-3 visa type is not part of our portfolio (Treaty Trader & Investors). But you can find more information here: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/au/au-niv-typee3.asp

Applicants for the Consulate General in São Paulo with questions about the application can contact the E-visa office by e-mail at vistosEsaopaulo@state.gov. The E-visa team will respond within two business days (48 hours).

Applicants for the Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro with questions about the application can contact the Visa office by e-mail at visario@state.gov

More information about E-1 and E-2 visas is available at the U.S. State Department’s Webs