Each year, investors and international traders from around the world petition to enter the U.S. to develop their businesses and investments. However, only foreigners from treaty countries are eligible for the E visa. Keep reading to learn more about this highly advantageous visa classification.
E Visa Categories and Requirements
The E visa is divided into three categories based on the nature of the work that brings the applicant to the U.S.:
- The E-1 visa is reserved for business traders that hold a citizenship or nationality in a treaty country. The traded items are usually physical goods but can also include others such as services, transportation, or insurance. The important thing is that your business trade is considered substantial by the USCIS, meaning that your business performs a sizeable number of transactions on a regular basis.
- The E-2 visa is the more popular of the three E visas available. It is designed for foreign investors from a treaty country who have invested or are currently investing significant capital in an enterprise in the U.S. You must be entering the U.S. with the single purpose of working on this endeavor and show that you own at least 50% of the enterprise.
- For the E-3 visa, one must be a professional from Australia that holds or will hold a specialty occupation for a U.S. employer. All that is required is an Australian citizenship and a U.S. job offer for a specialty position.
For all three categories, the process involves filing an I-129 petition if you are inside the U.S. E-3 applicants will also need a Labor Condition Application (LCA). It is important to note that some applicants, such as treaty investors, can self-petition, while others must have their employers file on their behalf. Consult your immigration attorney for more help on this issue.
If you are currently outside U.S. borders, then you will need to file a DS-160 form with the Department of State online. You can then bring that completed form along with all other required documentation to an interview at your home country’s U.S. consulate or embassy.
What are the Treaty Countries?
Only investors, traders, and specialty employees from treaty countries can petition for an E visa. A treaty country is any nation that currently maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. You can see the full list of treaty countries on the DOS website.
It is important to make sure that you are either a citizen or a national of one of these treaty countries, not simply a permanent resident. You should also note whether your country is approved for E-1 visas, E-2 visas, or both. For example, Greece is only approved for E-1 visas, Morocco is only approved for E-2 visas, and Japan is approved for both.
Note that some of the more populated countries (e.g. China and India) are not on this list of treaty countries. If you are from a country that is not listed, speak with your immigration attorney to learn about your options.
What is the E Visa duration?
In this area, the E visa has a large advantage over other work-related visas such as the J-1 or H-1B. The initial period of stay for each category of E visa is 2 years. While this may seem short, you are also able to extend your stay indefinitely through 2-year increments.
How Can I Get an E Visa Renewal?
In order to qualify for an E visa renewal or extension, you must continue to maintain the qualifications for the initial visa. You must also have the intention of leaving at the end of each period of stay. In addition to this, you also need to have the following documents:
- A copy of your I-94 form with a departure date that has not expired.
- Your passport with your current E visa or the I-797 approval notice
- A letter explaining the reason for the renewal
Each visa class may have its own set of renewal and extension documentation depending on your immigration situation. Work with your immigration attorney to find out what will be required from you.
It is important to note that in some cases, an E-2 visa extension could be granted simply upon leaving and reentering the U.S. However, because this is not a guarantee, we still recommend consulting your attorney.
What is the Processing Time?
If you are inside the U.S., your E visa processing time generally correlates with how long it takes for the USCIS to process your I-129 form. This heavily depends on when and where your petition is being processed. Because each USCIS field office has a different workload, the processing time may vary. While the average seems to be around six months, be sure to check in on the posted processing times for your area.
If you are outside the U.S., you will be required to submit to an interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. You can enter your home city into the DOS website to learn how long the appointment wait time will be.
Can I Use Premium Processing?
Fortunately, the E visas all require the I-129 petition, which is one of the two forms that qualify for the premium processing service. For a fee of $1,225, this feature will obligate the USCIS to process your petition in 15 calendar days instead of upwards of six months.
How Much is the E Visa Fee?
Another major advantage to the E visa is the relatively low filing fee. As of now, the only mandatory fee to be concerned with is the $460 fee for filing the I-129 petition. This will be paid by the petitioner, whether it is you or your employer.
For the E-3 visa, there is no cost to filing the Labor Condition Application. If you are required to file an I-9, this form also does not require a filing fee.
Some auxiliary costs that may be associated with an E visa are as follows:
- Premium processing fee of $1,225 – this can be paid by anyone, not just the petitioner.
- Attorney fee
- Traveling cost if outside the U.S.
To gain a better understanding of the total costs involved with applying for an E visa, speak with your immigration lawyer.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
If you are looking for a team of immigration lawyers that specialize in helping foreign traders and investors obtain E visas, look no further than the experienced attorneys here at SGM Law Group.
Our attorneys use their long track record of past successes to help you make the best decisions concerning your immigration process. To start your E visa journey with one of our immigration lawyers, fill out this contact form so we can schedule your consultation.