In this article we discuss what are the differences between the E1 and E2 visa for the United States. But before exploring the differences further, it is important to point out that there are also similarities between the E1 and E2 visa and where the circumstances permit, an individual can apply for E1 visa or E2 interchangeably.
From a practical point this means that in certain situations a foreign national may be able to qualify for both visas and can start by holding an E2 visa initially and subsequently apply and hold an E1 visa, or he or she can start with an E1 visa and then later apply for an E2 visa.
For example, Gianna who is a seller of apparel and accessories from Italy (a country that has both an E1 and an E2 treaty with the United States) and exports its goods primarily to USA, can apply first for an E1 visa and hold it for many years before applying for an E2 visa and vice versa.
First, in terms of similarities, both the E1 visa and E2 visa are based on the existence of a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and another country, and promote bilateral trade and investment, allowing individuals to engage in business and trade in the US.
Second, to qualify for the E1 or E2 visa, applicants must be nationals of a treaty country.
Third, both visas are temporary and provide the principal visa holder the right to work in the United States for the E1 or E2 business, respectively.
Fourth, both visas can be renewed indefinitely as long as their respective legal requirements are met and do not automatically lead to a US green card.
Fifth, the spouse and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) of a principal E2 visa holder or E1 visa can obtain the E2 or E1 visa, respectively, and the spouse can apply for work authorization to work in the United States while the children can attend public and private schools and universities.
Sixth, the E1 and E2 visas have the same validity period and are generally processed at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy, but foreign nationals can also apply with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if they are in the United States and conditions are met. And finally, both provide the ability to bring certain executives, managers or specialized knowledge employees to the US as long as they have the same citizenship as the business owner.
What are the differences between E1 and E2 visa?
But what are the differences between E1 and E2 visa? The most notable differences between E1 and E2 visa are:
- Only citizens of certain countries can qualify for the E1 visa, and some countries have an E1 treaty or an E2 treaty with the United States but not both. This means that an individual from a country that has an E1 treaty with the U.S. but does not have an E2 treaty can only apply for an E1 visa and the E2 visa is not available for them. For example, if you are a citizen of Greece, you can only apply for an E1 visa because Greece only has an E1 treaty with the United States but does not have an E2 treaty. Similarly, if you are a citizen of Bulgaria and want to come to the United States, you can only apply for an E2 visa because Bulgaria has an E2 treaty with the U.S. but does not have an E1 treaty such that an E1 visa is not available for citizens of Bulgaria. However, if you are a citizen of Japan, then you can apply for both E1 visa or E2 visa because Japan has both an E1 and E2 treaty with the U.S. Please note that the list of treaty countries can change and you should access the latest list here.
- E1 visa does not require a financial investment in a U.S. business. Instead, to qualify for an E1 visa, you must provide evidence showing that the trade between your treaty country and the United States is substantial and is primarily between the U.S. and the treaty country. While substantial trade is not a set dollar amount, the value of international trade should be at least $100,000 per year. On the other hand, for the E2 visa, you must show that a substantial amount of capital is invested in an active U.S. business and that the business is likely to employ U.S. workers in the future. The investment of a substantial amount for the E2 visa is not a set dollar amount but depending on the type of business it can range from $50,000 to $100,000 or more or less. However, unlike the E1 visa, no trade between your treaty country and the United States is required for the E2 visa.
- E1 visa does not require a 5-year business plan. While an E1 visa business plan is not required during the E1 visa application process, it is generally recommended to present a 5-year business plan to USCIS officers or U.S. Consulate staff. However, keep in mind that if you apply for an E1 visa you do not need to show that you are likely to hire U.S. workers in the near future. On the other hand, unlike the E1 visa, for the E2 visa a business plan is required for start-up businesses or those who have been in operation for less than couple of years. Moreover, for the E2 visa you must show capacity to hire U.S. workers over a period of 5 years.
- E1 visa does not require the formation of a company in the US. While you can apply for an E1 visa as a treaty trader without forming a company in the United States, it is recommended that you form one for registration with the U.S. Consulate abroad. However, unlike with the E1 visa, you should form a U.S. company if you plan to apply for an E2 visa. Please note that the requirements to form a U.S. business differ from state to state.
Our immigration lawyers at Malescu Law can assist
Our experienced business immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA can assist with evaluating both the E1 and E2 visa options for your circumstance, discussing the differences between the E1 and E2 visa, guide you through the process and assist you with collecting the necessary documents, prepare the required documents and application with a lawyer cover letter to be presented before the US immigration authorities. Additionally, our firm can provide you with E1 business plan or E2 business plan.
Malescu Law P.A. – Immigration Lawyers