An E visa is designed for individuals entering the U.S. under the provisions of a treaty of commerce and navigation between the U.S. and the foreign state of their nationality. 
The E category has two sub-divisions:  E-1 (known as “treaty trader”) status is available to those will carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or trade in technology, principally between the U.S. and the foreign state of which the applicant is a national.  E-2 (known as “treaty investor”) status is available to those who will develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he or she has invested, or of an enterprise in which he or she is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.

E-1 (known as “treaty trader”) status is available to those will carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or trade in technology, principally between the U.S. and the foreign state of which the applicant is a national.
A person may be issued an E-1 Treaty Trader visa if:

  1. The individual or at least ½ the firm has the nationality of the treaty country .
  2. There is substantial trade (more than 50 %) between the U.S. and the country of nationality.
  3. The individual is either the principal trader, who is coming to the U.S. to engage in substantial trade, or an executive, manager or employee with special skills essential to the company.
  4. Trade must be substantial, which means a continuing flow or exchange of items.

E visas are generally issued for 5 years.  Extensions of stay may be granted as long as eligibility continues and the treaty remains in force.  At the border, E visa holders are admitted to the U.S. for 2 years.  Extensions of stay in the U.S. may be granted in 2 year increments.

E’s are generally processed at the U.S. Consulates abroad, although it is possible to file a change of status to E within the U.S. Because each Consulate has some discretion in the adjudication and visa issuance procedure, it is important to contact the applicable Consulate directly to determine what type of documentation they would require for an E visa.  Click here for the website for all U.S. Consulates.

Note that the E is a nonimmigrant visa status only; it does not result in permanent residency.