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US Visas: Increase in British E-1/E-2 Treaty Visa applications
08/Jan/2015
British citizens are applying in increasing numbers for E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visas. The high value of the pound against the US dollar has made investments in the US more attractive for British citizens. E-1 and E-2 visas are treaty-based visas for nationals of certain countries with which the US has agreed a trade related treaty. In addition, the spouse is entitled to work in the US.

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The treaty allows nationals of the treaty Country, including the actual investor, to come to the US to work in the E-1 or E-2 treaty company. The business will firstly need to be registered as an E-1 Treaty Trader business or E-2 Treaty investor business which is typically a difficult and complicated process. Investors and employees can then apply for entry to the US.

There is no requirement unlike with the L-1 visa that the employee must have worked for the overseas company for any particular period of time. In fact the employee could have been newly recruited. From a practical point of view some of the time the employee would need to have worked for the employer overseas to show that the employee has 'essential skills'.

E-1 Treaty Trader Visas

The E-1 treaty trader visa can be used in a situation where the business in the overseas treaty Country can show substantial trade in goods or services with the US. The E-1 visa allows foreign national investors from a treaty Country to live and work in the US and allows entry of employees with essential skills who are the same nationality as the investor to work in a management or specialist level position.

Some examples of goods and services that can be traded between the US and the Treaty Country to show trade for the purposes of E-1 substantial Trade are included below. This is not an exhaustive list.

Goods
Consultancy Services
Accounting Services
International banking
Insurance
Transportation
Tourism
Technology and its transfer
Engineering
Advertising
Data
Design
In order to qualify, applicants must meet the following criteria

They must be executives, managers or specialists with essential skills who are nationals of the Treaty Country, or business owners who are nationals of the treaty country with at least a 50% share of the US business.
The business trading with the US must be based in the treaty country, and have at least 50% of its stock/assets owned by a national of that country. There may be alternatives to this for large companies.
The applicant applying as an employee must be a citizen of the same treaty country as the owner of the company, and the overseas business must be involved in substantial trade with the US.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

The E-2 treaty investor visa can be used by nationals of the Treaty Country or overseas companies registered in the Treaty Country (owned by nationals of the treaty Country) that have made substantial investments in the US. The funds invested must represent a significant part of the total value of the US business. If an E-2 visa holder is investing in a new business, then the amount must be large enough to establish the business.

Sanwar Ali of workpermit.com says that 'while there is no set regulations regarding the minimum amount required, applicants should expect to invest large amounts. Perhaps US$100,000 or more. Applicants who wish to invest $500,000 or more may be better off applying for the EB-5 investor visa which is a permanent residence visa.'

In order to apply for an E-2 visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

The applicant must be a national of one of the countries in the E-2 treaty investor list and must be the same nationality as the investor.
Applicants applying as employees must be executives, managers or be performing duties essential to the operation of the US business.
Company owners with at least a 50% share are eligible for entry to the US.
The investor or the company has invested a substantial amount in the US and is at risk of losing the investment made in the US if the business fails.
The US business in which the investment has been made will be involved in commercial activities in goods or services.
The applicant intends to leave the US following the conclusion of their business. However, the visa can continue to be extended indefinitely.
Some of the benefits of applying for an E-1 or E-2 visa are as follows:

After registration of the E-1 or E-2 business it is a relatively quick process obtaining a visa as an employee or business owner. This is in comparison to the lengthy, difficult and expensive process, for example, of applying for an L-1 or H-1B visa.
E-1 and E-2 visas allow spouses of visa holders to work in the US for any employer. Many work visas only allow the principal applicant the right to work in the US.
The initial visa period is for up to five years (in practice, especially for small businesses, the initial visa period is likely to be much shorter than five years), which may be extended for up to five years at a time.
The number of extensions of the visa that can be made is unlimited, as long as the company in the US and the visa applicant still meets the criteria for the E-1/E-2 visa. Other non-immigrant work visas allow entry for limited periods of time; for example the L-1A non-immigrant visa for an executive or manager allows entry for up to seven years.
The visa applicant will also be limited to only working for the specific company that sponsored the visa. Visas are limited to only the countries listed below, so any foreign nationals from countries not on the list will be unable to apply

There has been a big increase in the number of applicants for E-2 Treaty Investor visas from UK nationals in recent years. One of the reasons for this is the increase in the value of property since the 2008 crash in the UK. UK property investors have made big profits which are then available to invest in the US and elsewhere. Another reason for increased investments in the US is the strength of the pound against the dollar, which makes US investments more attractive to British investors.

For a full list of eligible countries please click here

If you would like to find out more about applying for an E-1/E-2 Registration and visa Workpermit.com can help. Workpermit.com is a specialist visa consultancy with 26 years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.
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