The “E” category was established to give effect to treaties between the United States and foreign countries that provide for reciprocal benefits to nationals of each country who invest in the other country, or who conduct trade between the two countries. The E-2 visa is useful for individuals who will live in the United States for extended periods of time on behalf of an enterprise that represents a major investment in the United States. Persons who are citizens of a country with such a treaty who either individually make a substantial investment in the United States or are employed by such investors (provided they share nationalities with the majority investors) may be classified as E-2 treaty investors.

In addition to holding citizenship within a treaty country, applicants for an E-2 visa must demonstrate that the sponsoring enterprise is an active, substantial, non-marginal, controlled, and at-risk investment; and that the potential E-2 employee will fill a key role directing, managing, or serving as a specialist developing the investment. Evidence that an E-2 enterprise meets these core requirements should be substantial, as many U.S. consular posts responsible for issuing E-2 visas mandate pre-submission of materials in an organized binder or portfolio before an officer extends a personal interview to the employee. Even minimal deviation from these presentation standards can cause extensive delays in processing of the application.

The E-2 applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 also are entitled to E-2 status. E-2 spouses may apply for work authorization once they enter the U.S.