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E-1 Treaty Trade & E-2 investment Visas


Treaty Trader visas (E-1) and Treaty Investor visas (E-2) are for nationals of a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation, who wish to go to the U.S. for one of two purposes:

  • To carry on substantial trade, principally between the United States and the treaty country (E-1); or
  • To develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital (E-2).

 The U.S. Embassy in London has seen a dramatic increase in the number of applications for E-2 visas in the last decade. One cause of this increase has been the strength of the pound against the dollar and another has been the growth in value of U.K. real estate.

The Treaty

The United States and the United Kingdom have maintained a treaty of commerce and navigation since 1815. In order to be covered by it, citizens of the U.K.  must own at least 50% of the business and must actively develop and direct that business. In addition, in order to be eligible for the E visas, U.K. applicants must reside in the British Isles.

Investors and Employees

Both owners and employees of treaty trader and treaty investor businesses receive the same kind of visa (E-1 or E-2); the law makes no distinction between them. Investors and employees, however, go through different processes to get their visas.

Length of Visa

The maximum length for which an E-1 or E-2 visa can be issued to a citizen of the United Kingdom is 5 years. In London, trends show that the first E-1 or E-2 is usually issued for two years, but is renewable provided the investment or trade continues to meet all applicable requirements of U.S. immigration laws and regulations.

Proper Use of B1/B2 Visas and Visa-Waiver (ESTA) Travel for Investors:

Potential investors may seek out investment opportunities, sign contracts, and take other steps to purchase or establish a business while traveling on B1/B2 status or on the Visa Waiver Program. However, applicants may not develop and direct a business while in such status.

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