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E Visas for Temporary Workers

For treaty traders and investors who come to the United States under a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the country of which the treaty trader or investor is a citizen or national.

What is an E Visa?

The E visa category includes treaty traders and investors who come to the U.S. under a treaty of commerce and navigation between the U.S. and the country of which the treaty trader or investor is a citizen or national. This category also includes Australian specialty occupation workers.

Who is eligible for E visas?

Before entering the U.S., treaty traders or investors and Australian specialty occupation workers can apply for and receive an E-1, E-2 or E-3 visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. U.S. companies may also request a change of status to E-1, E-2, or E-3 for a nonimmigrant that is already in the United States. USCIS processes change of status and extensions of stay requests for nonimmigrants whose companies have filed such petitions.

What is an E-1 visa?

An E-1 visa is used for companies or individuals who are involved in or want to develop substantial trade between the U.S. and a country that the U.S. maintains an appropriate treaty. An E-1 visa can also be granted to the primary visa holder’s spouse and minor children.

Trade, in this usage, is defined as the international exchange of items between the U.S. and the treaty country.

Items that may be traded include:
  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and its transfer
  • Select news-gathering activities
Substantial trade refers to the flow of sizable international items of trade that involves many transactions over time. Principal trade occurs between the United States and the treaty country, when more than 50 percent of the total volume of trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country.

What is an E-2 visa?

An E-2 visa is used for applicants who want to enter the U.S. solely to develop and direct an enterprise in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital. An E-2 visa can also be granted to the primary visa holder’s spouse and minor children.

To obtain an E-2 investor visa, the E-2 investor applicant must:
  • Be a national of a treaty country (there is no nationality requirement for the spouse or child of the primary visa holder).
  • Provide a substantial investment that is sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • Prove the investment must be for a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify.
  • Prove the investment will generate significantly more income than just providing a living to the investor and family, or that the investment will have a significant economic impact in the United States.
  • Prove he or she has control of the funds, and the investment is at risk in the commercial sense.
  • Prove intent to come to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise.
  • Prove that if they are not the principal investor, he or she is employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

What is an E-3 visa?

An E-3 visa is only available to workers in specialty occupations or professional occupations who are nationals of Australia. An E-3 visa can also be granted to the primary visa holder’s spouse and minor children. There are a maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas issued annually. Spouses and children of primary applicants do not count against the numerical limitations.

This special visa classification is available to Australian citizens if:
  • There’s a legitimate offer of employment in the United States.
  • The individual possesses at least a bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent.
  • It will fill a specialty occupation that requires a specific skill set and/or specialized knowledge. While there is no set “specialty occupation” list, they often fall into a few categories. Examples include: health care, biotechnology, human resources, education, engineering, computer sciences, management, medicine, etc.
  • The U.S. employer must make attestations about the wage and working conditions in a Labor Condition Application, which is submitted to the Department of Labor.

How long are E visas valid?

The length of work authorization for E visas varies by visa type:
  • E-1 visas: An E-1 visa is generally valid for a period from one to five years. A person who enters the United States in E-1 visa status will be granted for up to two years of work authorization. These individuals can have their E-1 status extended indefinitely in increments of two years.
  • E-2 visas: An E-2 visa is generally valid for a period of up from one to five years. A person who enters the United States in E-2 status will be granted up to two years of work authorization. These individuals can technically have their E-2 status extended indefinitely in increments of two years.
  • E-3 visas: An E-3 visa is valid in the U.S. for a period of up to two years. An E-3 visa can technically be extended indefinitely in increments of two years.

How much does an E visa cost?

E visas involve a consulate application filing fee of $205. A USCIS application filing fee of $460 is only necessary in rare cases where a foreign national is inside the United States and switches to an E visa from another visa status. The potential for premium processing varies by E visa type.

Are E visas dual intent visas?

E visas are not dual intent, meaning holders may face international travel complications if they file a green card petition under this status. It’s recommended they switch to a dual intent visa, such as an H-1B or L-1, before applying for permanent residency.

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