Red Light, Green Card: Types of Treaty Visas for U.S. Employment

Business.com / Legal / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Green cards are a competitive and challenging process. Learn which investor visa may be your ticket into the United States.

Foreign nationals who hope to work in the United States have several options to choose from.

As many come to find, applying for an employment-based green card can often be a competitive undertaking, which is why many apply for treaty investor visas. The E-1, E-2, and E-3 are all viable options if the proper requirements can be met.

In this article, we'll explore these three types of treaty visas including their requirements as well as advantages.  

Related Article: American Dreaming: Choosing the Right Employment-Based Green Card

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa Category

The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa is classified for foreign citizens that have an authorized (negotiated contract) treaty of commerce with the United States. These citizens must have the intention to enter the  U.S. solely to conduct international trade.

No Annual Quota Imposed

One of the benefits of the E-1 Investor Visa is that it doesn't have a cap, which means there is no limit on the amount of visas issued annually. The E-1 is available for renewal and valid for two year increments. To be eligible, however, the  foreign citizen must come from an approved country and provide evidence of business intent.

Click here for a list of E-1 treaty countries.

E-1 Visa Treaty Trader Qualifications

  • Must be a citizen of an approved treaty country
  • The volume of trade in the United States must be significant.
  • At least 50% of the business's international trade is conducted in the United States

E-1 Visa Treaty Trader Employee Qualifications

In order to meet the qualifications, the employer must be of the same citizenship as the treaty trader and the applicant must be a registered employee for the business. What's more, the employee is obligated to be of executive or supervisor title. In other words, the employee must be responsible for influential decisions and perform high level duties as well as possessing a special skill-set which cannot be duplicated. 

Related Article: Let's Get to Work: The Ins and Outs of Green Cards Via Job Offer

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Requirements

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa enables foreign citizens, of approved commercial treaty countries, to come to the United States to further advance operations which he/she had previously invested in. If the investor is currently in the United States, it is important to file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) in order to adjust status, change employment, or file an extension.

The investor is mandated to provide evidence of the intent to lead business developments. He/she must also present at least 50% ownership of the business. This can be completed through proof of title and required duties. 

The investor has continued to heavily invest in the business and  has made significant investments. These can be identified by: 

  • Determining the contributed cost of investments compared to the total cost of investments
  • Documenting whether the investments have secured a financial commitment to the business
  • Determining whether the investments have helped the business develop

The business must have the potential to generate a significant amount in order to provide for the treaty investor and his/her family. If the business is new and is not considered a large enterprise, the business can still be eligible but must show evidence of the business's capacity within 5 years of receiving the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Finally, the applicant complies with the U.S. law and will depart the United States when the E-2 Investor Visa expires.

E-3 Treaty Investor Visa for Australians 

Calling all nationals of Australia! This E-3 classification is exclusively for individuals from Australia who enter the U.S. to perform a specialty occupation which requires theoretical knowledge or experience. The initial period of stay for an E-3 visa is two years with up to 2 years per extension (no maximum number of extensions). 

Applying for a Treaty Visa 

The application process for an E-1, E-2 or E-3 treaty visa is best left to a qualified immigration attorney. They can help you identify which visa you are eligible for and proceed with the filing requirements. 

Don't qualify for any of these options? Click here to read "How to Enter the U.S. to Start a Business."

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides an annual minimum of 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas--divided into five preference categories. Again, it's best to consult an immigration professional to select the most appropriate course of action. 

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