Friendship, Commerce, Navigation, and Bilateral Investment treaties between sovereignties have delivered mutual commercial benefit for centuries. These days, a foreign national investor (FNI) can also use such a treaty to obtain a visa in the U.S. There are two separate visa programs provided by international treaties with the U.S.: The E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visas.
A proper exploration of these visa options begins with a survey of whether the FNI’s country and the U.S. have a qualifying treaty or treaties in place. Bahrain and the U.S., for example, have only an E-2 Treaty Investor-enabling Treaty. In contrast, Canada and the U.S. have treaties that support both E-1 Treaty Trader as well as E-2 Treaty Investor programs.
This post focuses on the E-2 Treaty Investor visa program. FNIs should not be daunted by the challenging application packet. Remember: the would-be investor is in the enviable position of strength, having amassed a sizable investment. And, the investor has done his/her due diligence and located a for-profit enterprise seeking and warranting the investment.
Nevertheless, the final lap of the race requires some stamina as numerous application requirements must be met. These include:
1. Capital investment must be under the investor’s control, it must be put at risk, and it must be a done deal — or imminently so.
2. Capital investment must be substantial – but no bright-line rule.
3. The for-profit U.S. enterprise must be real and active – bona fide.
4. The would-be investor, if an employee, must be an executive, manager, or supervisor.
This list is not exhaustive but illustrates the complexity of the application process. Also noteworthy is that fact that U.S. embassies often have specific requirements on supporting evidence and its format. Thus, for all the reasons cited above, it is wise to consult an immigration attorney prior to proceeding. See 22 CFR 41.51(c)(2); 9 FAM 41.51.