Treaty Trader & Investor Visa (E-1, E-2)

E VISA PROCESSING

(EFFECTIVE 01 MARCH 2016) 

  • General Information
  • Overview of the Application Process
  • E-1 First-Time Application Requirements
  • E-2 First-Time Application Requirements
  • E Essential Employee Requirements
  • E Visa Renewal Applications for the Same Company
  • E-3 Applications
  • Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides nonimmigrant visa status for citizens of countries that maintain an appropriate treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States or that is considered to be a treaty country under U.S. law. Chileans became eligible for E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visas when the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement took effect on January 1, 2004. The E visa applicant must be coming to the United States to carry on substantial trade or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested, or is actively involved in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.

The Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor Visas were established to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the United States and other countries. U.S. law (see paragraph 101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) explicitly states that E-1 visa holders must enter “solely to carry on substantial trade” and E-2 holders “solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise” in which he or she has invested. Moreover, these visas are non-immigrant visas and thus temporary.  Treaty Trader/Investor Visas can be renewed or extended only if the investment or trade continues to meet all applicable requirements of U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Persons wishing to remain indefinitely in the United States should apply for the appropriate immigrant visa.

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.

Change of Status

Investors who have changed status in the United States with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must follow the steps for all first-time investors.  Such a change of status remains valid only while the applicant remains in the United States. Once the applicant has left the United States, he or she requires an E visa to return and resume the running of his or her business. Change of status does not guarantee the issuance of a visa nor does it exempt the investor from the normal application process.

Dependents

The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of Treaty Traders, Treaty Investors, or employees of qualifying enterprises may also receive E visas in order to accompany or follow to join their spouse or parent. They are not required to have the same nationality as the principal applicant.  Spouses may work in the United States if they have obtained an Employee Authorization Card from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They may apply for this card after they enter the United States. Dependent children may not work in the United States although they may attend school.

Copies of marriage certificates, birth certificates or other legal documentation must be submitted to establish the relationship between principal applicant and spouse and/or children.  De-facto spouses (such as common law spouses) and fiancé(e)s do not qualify for derivative status.

Proper Use of B1/B2 Visas and Visa Waiver 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.  State Department regulations state (9 FAM 41.31 N9.7), “an alien seeking investment in the United States, including an investment that would qualify him or her for status as an E-2 investor, is precluded from performing productive labor or from actively participating in the management of the business prior to being granted E-2 status.” Such actions are impermissible whether or not the investor receives any payment for their work.

Treaty Trader (E-1) Requirements:

  • Requisite treaty exists;
  • The applicant must be a national of the treaty country;
  • The international trade must be “substantial”; there must be a sizable and continuing volume of trade;
  • The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that at least 50% of the firm’s international trade must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant’s nationality;
  • Trade means the international exchange of goods, money, services, or technology. Title of items must pass from one party to another; and
  • The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the operation of the firm.

The term “trade” is defined to include commercial in goods and trade in services and technology. This includes banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, technology transfer, and other measurable services which can be traded.

Treaty Investor (E-2) Requirements: 

  • The investor (either a real or corporate person) must be a national of a treaty country;
  • The investment must be substantial.  It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise;
  • The investment is irrevocably committed and at risk. The funds or assets to be invested must be committed to the investment, and the commitment must be real and irrevocable. Mere intent to invest, or possession of uncommitted funds in a bank account, or even prospective investment arrangements entailing no present commitment, will not suffice;
  • The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify;
  • The investment must not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than needed to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States;
  • The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. For the purpose of measuring the investment, loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not counted; and
  • The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If applicants are not the principal investors, they must be employed as a supervisor, executive, or as the possessor of highly specialized skills.

 E Visa Renewal Applications

E visa holders who would like to renew their visas should follow the first time E visa process when applying for a visa renewal.

Important Information for Australian E-3 Visa Applicants

The E-3 visa classification applies only to nationals of Australia as well as their spouses and children. E-3 principal applicants must be going to the United States solely to work in a specialty occupation. The spouse and children need not be Australian citizens. However the U.S. does not recognize De Facto relationships for the purposes of immigration, and to qualify as a spouse you will need a marriage certificate.

For additional information on E-3 visas, please refer to U.S. Embassy Canberra, Australia.

 

This page provides an overview for the E visa process, which includes online application; submission of supporting documents; Consular Section review of application; appointment scheduling; and interview and final adjudication.

Submission

After completing the online application and registering with the online system at https://usvisa-info.com, all applicants must submit specific documents for an E-1 visa or E-2 visa.  These documents should be submitted electronically to SantiagoEvisa@state.gov.  Please see list of required documents below for additional information. Only documents from the list will be reviewed.

Upon receipt, the application is reviewed for completeness by consular staff.  If the application is incomplete, the case will be returned to the applicant or legal representative for re-submission. Current review time for each case is two weeks, so please plan all future U.S. or international travel accordingly. Request for expedited reviews will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Please note: You should never pay for travel arrangements (e.g., airfare, hotels) without having a visa in your possession.  The U.S. Embassy accepts no responsibility if you do so.

Review

Officers will examine all cases to ensure compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. The reviewing officer will note any missing or additional documents that may be required. If additional information is required during the review, the applicant or legal representative will be notified via e-mail.

Once the review is completed, the applicant or legal representative will be notified via email to the address provided during the online registration process. The applicant may also be requested to bring further documentation to the interview.

Adjudication

All E visas applications, including renewals, require an interview at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago.  On the day of the interview, applicants should come to the U.S. Embassy Consular Section ten minutes prior to the appointment time so that they can proceed through security. Applicants must present their appointment confirmation to security.

During the interview, applicants should be prepared to discuss their business in detail.  Legal representatives and/or financial advisors are not permitted to attend.  At the conclusion of the interview, the consular officer will determine if the business and applicant qualifies for the visa under U.S. regulations or if additional information is required before the officer is able to adjudicate your application.

If the applicant is denied an E visa, the officer will provide a form describing the reasons for the refusal and citing the appropriate section of U.S. regulation.  The officer’s decision is final and there is no appeal.  The applicant, however, may apply again for a visa.

Step 1

Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.  You will also need to submit a DS-160 for each family member accompanying you.

Step 2

Register with the online Yatri system (https://ais.usvisa-info.com) and pay the visa fees for yourself and your family members.  Please note that the application fee is nonrefundable. Once you have completed your registration, you will receive additional instructions for submitting the required documentation for your application.

Step 3

Email your application and supporting documentation to the U.S. Embassy in Santiago.  Please follow the below instructions carefully.  Incorrectly submitted applications will not be reviewed. Binders with supporting documentation are no longer accepted at the Embassy before, during, or after your interview, uncles specifically requested by a Consular Officer.

Electronic submission is the only acceptable method for E visa applications!  The entire E visa package should be submitted electronically to SantiagoEvisa@state.gov.

Please use the e-mail subject line: “Surname, Given Name, Business Name, E-1 Visa Application”

Please limit attachments to 5 MB; you may send “zipped” files if required.  Do NOT send “linked” files, as we cannot access or open these.

All documents must be submitted in English and should be germane to the case.

Applications should be submitted in only one email with seven separate attachments, one for each of the following tabs:

Tab A:  Table of Contents

Tab B: Forms

  • DS-160 barcode confirmation pages for principal applicant and family members;
  • Receipt showing payment of the non-refundable application fees;
  • Completed DS-156E for principal applicant only; and
  • If you will be represented in this matter by an attorney, you must submit Form G-28 “Notice of Entry of Appearance of Attorney as Representative” and should include contact e-mail address and phone number for the attorney.  If your representative is not an attorney, please submit a letter of agreement between the applicant and the representative signed by both parties.

Tab C: Applicant Information

  • If principal is accompanied by family members, marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates showing relationship to principal applicant;
  • Principal applicant’s resume or curriculum vitae;
  • If the applicant is not the business owner but an employee, please include a job letter from the company.  This letter should describe:
    • the business;
    • the job the applicant will do; and
    • his or her qualifications for that job;
  • Signed statement from the principal applicant of intent to depart the U.S. upon termination of E status; and
  • If applicable, please provide copies of any changes or extensions of status granted by USCIS (Form I-797).

*Photocopies of passports, RUTs, or any form of identification for the applicant or the applicant’s family are not required. Do not include photocopies as supporting documents with your application. 

Tab D: Ownership

Please demonstrate that nationals of Chile own at least 50% of the business.  U.S. dual citizens or Legal Permanent Residents do not qualify.

  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations) or Organization (for LLCs) for U.S. business;
  • Share certificates and/or operating agreements (as applicable) to verify ownership;
  • If the firm has several owners or subsidiaries or if the chain of ownership includes intermediary entities, please include the following (as applicable):
    • An organization chart with names showing the full ownership structure of the entity;
    • Legal proof of ownership within a respective chain
  • If the firm is publicly traded with many shareholders (none of which own more than 50%) include:
    • A written declaration justly authorized by a corporate official stating all of the stock exchanges on which the firm is traded; and
    • A copy of recently issued trading information concerning the nationality of the stock’s owners; and
  • If the firm is an incorporated entity outside of the U.S., include a chart of ownership of the enterprise and a certificate of existence/registration from the state/province in which the company is incorporated.

Tab E: Trade (Maximum submission for this tab is 40 pages)

  • You are not required to submit a business plan with your application. Instead, include a cover letter describing how the enterprise and beneficiary qualify for E-1 status.  The letter must address all the requirements for E-1 visa eligibility, described in depth in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual 9 FAM 41.51.  Address the following points in detail:
    • The trade is substantial and on-going;
    • The traded goods are easily identified and traceable; and
    • At least 50% of the trade is between the U.S. and the treaty country;
  • Evidence supporting the claims made in the cover letter.  S. Department of Homeland Security bills of lading are the preferred documentation to verify this requirement; however, annual reports, purchase orders or invoices, sales invoices, inventory data and insurance papers documenting commodities imported into the U.S. may be acceptable:
    • Provide a spreadsheet listing every qualifying transaction of international trade between the treaty countries during the last calendar year.  If there is a U.S. entity with separate legal status (such as an incorporated company or a LLC), all figures should refer to its trade.  Otherwise, consider the trade of the Italian company.  This table should include the date, the invoice number, and the dollar value of the transaction.  Show in a prominent place the total number and value of these transactions; and
    • Provide copies of a representational sampling of the U.S. DHS bills of lading and/or invoices summarized in the table proving that the goods or services moved from one country to the other; and
  • S. tax returns for the business for the past two years.  These must be copies of the signed and dated forms actually submitted to the IRS.

Please assemble your email package according to these guidelines.  Incorrectly formatted packages will not be processed.  Do not include brochures, photographs, or business plans that contribute little or nothing to the value of your case.

Step 4

You will receive an email confirming receipt of your package.  If your package is incomplete or incorrectly formatted, it will be returned.

For general questions on E visa processing or specific questions regarding E visa cases submitted, please contact SantiagoEvisa@state.gov

Step 5

Once your application has been reviewed by the E Visa Unit and any requested additional information received, you will receive an email through the online notification system to schedule an interview.  Applicants younger than 14 years old are not required to be present at time of interview.

After the interview, if your case is approved, you will receive your passport(s) and visa(s) through DHL on average of one week from the interview date, assuming no additional administrative processing is necessary.

Step 1

Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.  You will also need to submit DS-160s for each family member accompanying you.

Step 2

Register with the online Yatri system (https://ais.usvisa-info.com) and pay the visa fees for yourself and your family members.  Please note that the application fee is nonrefundable. Once you have completed your registration, you will receive additional instructions for submitting the required documentation for your application.

Step 3

Email your application and supporting documentation to the U.S. Embassy in Santiago.  Please follow the below instructions carefully.  Incorrectly submitted applications will not be reviewed. Binders with supporting documentation are no longer accepted at the Embassy before, during, or after your interview, uncles specifically requested by a Consular Officer.

Electronic submission is the only acceptable method for E visa applications!  The entire E visa package should be submitted electronically to SantiagoEvisa@state.gov.

Please use the e-mail subject line: “Surname, Given Name, Business Name, E-1 Visa Application”

Please limit attachments to 5 MB; you may send “zipped” files if required.  Do NOT send “linked” files, as we cannot access or open these.

All documents must be submitted in English and should be germane to the case.

Applications should be submitted in only one email with seven separate attachments, one for each of the following tabs:

Tab A:  Table of Contents

Tab B: Forms 

  • DS-160 barcode confirmation pages for principal applicant and family members;
  • Receipt showing payment of the non-refundable application fees;
  • Completed DS-156E for principal applicant only; and
  • If you will be represented in this matter by an attorney, you must submit Form G-28 “Notice of Entry of Appearance of Attorney as Representative” and should include contact e-mail address and phone number for the attorney.  If your representative is not an attorney, please submit a letter of agreement between the applicant and the representative signed by both parties.

Tab C: Applicant Information

  • If principal is accompanied by family members, marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates showing relationship to principal applicant;
  • Principal applicant’s resume or curriculum vitae;
  • If the applicant is not the business owner but an employee, please include a job letter from the company.  This letter should describe:
    • the business;
    • the job the applicant will do; and
    • his or her qualifications for that job;
  • Signed statement from the principal applicant of intent to depart the U.S. upon termination of E status; and
  • If applicable, please provide copies of any changes or extensions of status granted by USCIS (Form I-797).

Tab D: Ownership

Please demonstrate that nationals of Chile own at least 50% of the business.  U.S. dual citizens or Legal Permanent Residents do not qualify.

  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations) or Organization (for LLCs) for U.S. business;
  • Share certificates and/or operating agreements (as applicable) to verify ownership;
  • If the firm has several owners or subsidiaries or if the chain of ownership includes intermediary entities, please include the following (as applicable):
    • An organization chart with names showing the full ownership structure of the entity;
    • Legal proof of ownership within a respective chain
  • If the firm is publicly traded with many shareholders (none of which own more than 50%) include:
    • A written declaration justly authorized by a corporate official stating all of the stock exchanges on which the firm is traded; and
    • A copy of recently issued trading information concerning the nationality of the stock’s owners; and
  • If the firm is an incorporated entity outside of the U.S., include a chart of ownership of the enterprise and a certificate of existence/registration from the state/province in which the company is incorporated.

Tab E: Investment (Maximum submission for this tab is 40 pages)

  • A cover letter describing how the enterprise and beneficiary qualify for E-2 status.  The letter must address all the requirements for E-2 visa eligibility, described in depth in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual 9 FAM 41.51.  Address the following points in detail:
    • The investor has made or is in the process of making an at risk, irrevocably committed investment (please note that funds in a bank account do not qualify);
    • The enterprise is currently operational or will commence operations imminently;
    • The investment is substantial; and
    • The investment is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living.  The enterprise has the present or future capacity to generate more than simply enough income for a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family (the projected future capacity should be realized within 5 years after business start-up);
  • Investment spreadsheet. Evidence of investment is required, e.g., cancelled checks, copies of debits from bank accounts, wire transfers, and matching invoices;
  • A complete money trail of the funds invested, including:
    • Documentation of the original source of the funds (sale of property, inheritance, loans, earnings, sale of business, etc.);
    • Movement of these funds to a U.S. account; and
    • Use of these funds for qualifying business expenses.  Please include invoices, cancelled checks, and bank statements showing matching debits (highlighted);
  • If you are buying an existing business, please provide all of the following that apply in your case:
    • A signed, dated, valid purchase agreement;
    • A binding escrow agreement (see 9 FAM 41.51 N8.103 for guidelines) that explicitly says where the money goes if the visa is issued, what happens when it is not, and is signed and dated by all parties.  Please cross-reference exactly any relevant purchase agreement;
    • Signed, dated, valid lease for business premises, including evidence of payments; and/or
    • Evidence of any other funds spent to acquire and set up the business;
  • If you are establishing a start-up, please provide all of the following that apply:
    • Signed, dated, valid lease for business premises, including evidence of payments; and/or
    • Evidence of equipment and/or inventory purchases;
  • If you are purchasing a franchise, please provide:
    • A signed and dated franchise agreement; and
    • Evidence of payment of the franchise fee.

Tab F: Real and Operating (Maximum submission for this tab is 20 pages)

  • Relevant local, state and/or federal licenses; and
  • Monthly bank statements for current calendar year.
  • Business related invoices for current calendar year, sales tax receipts, and utility bils for the previous month.

Tab G: Marginality (Maximum submission for this tab is 20 pages)

  • W-2 and/or 1099s for the previous year;
  • Start-up businesses should also provide:
  • A concise business plan that analyzes the local market and competition and gives a 5-year projection of profit and loss.
  • A concise breakdown of start-up costs necessary for the business to become operational.

Please assemble your email package according to these guidelines.  Incorrectly formatted packages will not be processed.  Do not include brochures, photographs, or business plans that contribute little or nothing to the value of your case.

Step 4

You will receive an email confirming receipt of your package.  If your package is incomplete or incorrectly formatted, it will be returned.

For general questions on E visa processing or specific questions regarding E visa cases submitted, please contact SantiagoEvisa@state.gov.

 Step 5

Once your application has been reviewed by the E Visa Unit and any requested additional information received, you will receive an email through the online notification system to schedule an interview.  Applicants younger than 14 years old are not required to be present at time of interview.

After the interview, if your case is approved, you will receive your passport(s) and visa(s) through DHL on average of one week from the interview date, assuming no additional administrative processing is necessary.

Step 1

Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.  You will also need to submit DS-160s for each family member accompanying you.

Step 2

Register with the online Yatri system (https://ais.usvisa-info.com) and pay the visa fees for yourself and your family members.  Please note that the application fee is nonrefundable. Once you have completed your registration, you will receive additional instructions for submitting the required documentation for your application.

Step 3

Email your application and supporting documentation to the U.S. Embassy in Santiago.  Please follow the below instructions carefully.  Incorrectly submitted applications will not be reviewed. Binders with supporting documentation are no longer accepted at the Embassy before, during, or after your interview, uncles specifically requested by a Consular Officer.

Electronic submission is the only acceptable method for E visa applications!  The entire E visa package should be submitted electronically to SantiagoEvisa@state.gov.

Please use the e-mail subject line: “Surname, Given Name, Business Name, E Employee Visa Application”

Please limit attachments to 5 MB; you may send “zipped” files if required.  Do NOT send “linked” files, as we cannot access or open these.

All documents must be submitted in English and should be germane to the case.

Applications should be submitted in only one email with seven separate attachments, one for each of the following tabs:

Tab A:  Table of Contents

Tab B: Forms

  • DS-160 barcode confirmation pages for principal applicant and family members;
  • Receipt showing payment of the non-refundable application fees;
  • Completed DS-156E for principal applicant only; and
  • If you will be represented in this matter by an attorney, you must submit Form G-28 “Notice of Entry of Appearance of Attorney as Representative” and should include contact e-mail address and phone number for the attorney.  If your representative is not an attorney, please submit a letter of agreement between the applicant and the representative signed by both parties.

Tab C: Applicant Information

  • If the applicant is not the business owner but an employee, including an executive, supervisor, or “essential employee” please include a job letter from the company.  This letter should describe:
    • the business;
    • the job the applicant will do; and
    • his or her qualifications for that job;
  • Principal applicant’s resume or curriculum vitae that demonstrate the applicant is an “essential employee”;
  • Signed statement from the principal applicant of intent to depart the U.S. upon termination of E status; and
  • If principal is accompanied by family members, marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates showing relationship to principal applicant;
  • If applicable, please provide copies of any changes or extensions of status granted by USCIS (Form I-797).

*Photocopies of passports, RUTs, or any form of identification for the applicant or the applicant’s family are not required. Do not include photocopies as supporting documents with your application. 

Tab D: Ownership

Please demonstrate that nationals of Chile own at least 50% of the business.  U.S. dual citizens or Legal Permanent Residents do not qualify.

  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations) or Organization (for LLCs) for U.S. business;
  • Share certificates and/or operating agreements (as applicable) to verify ownership;
  • If the firm has several owners or subsidiaries or if the chain of ownership includes intermediary entities, please include the following (as applicable):
    • An organization chart with names showing the full ownership structure of the entity;
    • Legal proof of ownership within a respective chain
  • If the firm is publicly traded with many shareholders (none of which own more than 50%) include:
    • A written declaration justly authorized by a corporate official stating all of the stock exchanges on which the firm is traded; and
    • A copy of recently issued trading information concerning the nationality of the stock’s owners; and
  • If the firm is an incorporated entity outside of the U.S., include a chart of ownership of the enterprise and a certificate of existence/registration from the state/province in which the company is incorporated.

Please assemble your email package according to these guidelines.  Incorrectly formatted packages will not be processed.  Do not include brochures, photographs, or business plans that contribute little or nothing to the value of your case.

Step 4

You will receive an email confirming receipt of your package.  If your package is incomplete or incorrectly formatted, it will be returned.

For general questions on E visa processing or specific questions regarding E visa cases submitted, please contact SantiagoEvisa@state.gov.

Step 5

Once your application has been reviewed by the E Visa Unit and any requested additional information received, you will receive an email through the online notification system to schedule an interview.  Applicants younger than 14 years old are not required to be present at time of interview.

After the interview, if your case is approved, you will receive your passport(s) and visa(s) through DHL on average of one week from the interview date, assuming no additional administrative processing is necessary.

Q: Must the trading company exist and/or the investment have been made before the visa can be issued?

A: Trade must already be established at the time of visa application.  Investments, however, may be prospective, provided that the funds are irrevocably committed to the investment, contingent only upon the issuance of the visa.  Investment funds may come from any country, including the United States, as long as they are controlled by the investor.

Q: What is substantial trade?

A: Substantial trade contemplates a continuous flow of trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country.  This means numerous transactions rather than a single transaction regardless of monetary value.

Q: What is a substantial investment?

A: There is no fixed amount which is considered “substantial.”  A substantial amount of capital constitutes that amount which is ample to ensure the investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise as measured by the proportionality test.  The proportionality test compares the total amount invested in the enterprise with the cost of establishing a viable enterprise of the nature contemplated or the amount of capital needed to purchase an existing enterprise.

The investment must do more than merely yield a return capable of supporting the investor and family.  A marginal enterprise is an enterprise which does not have the capacity to generate significantly more than enough income to provide a living for the investor, family and other alien employees.

Q: Are joint ventures permitted?

A: Yes, provided that the individual investor applying for the visa is in a position to “develop and direct” the enterprise.  The applicant is in such a position by controlling the enterprise through ownership of at least 50% of the business, possessing operational control through a marginal position or other corporate device, or by other means showing the applicant controls the enterprise.

Q: How long may the Treaty Trader or Investor stay in the U.S.?

A: The applicant must have the intention of departing the U.S. upon conclusion of the commercial activities.  Nevertheless, holders of E visas may reside in the U.S. as long as they continue to meet E visa qualifications.

“Essential employees” may remain only as long as their skills are required to operate the business, and only as long as the owner can show either that U.S. workers cannot be trained to duplicate the skills or that the owner is making reasonable efforts to train U.S. workers as replacements.

The maximum length for which an E-1 or E-2 visa can be issued to a citizen of Chile is 5 years.  However, whether or not to issue for that length of time is solely the judgment of the consular officer deciding the case.

On initial entry, immigration officials will authorize the length of stay permitted in the U.S., with extensions generally available for as long as the E visa holder and family maintain their E visa status.

Upon expiration of the visa, the trader/investor or employee may apply to renew the visa.  There is no limit on renewals, so long as the applicant continues to qualify.

Q: I changed status in the U.S.  Can I apply as a renewal?

A: No.  Traders/investors who have changed status in the United States with USCIS must follow the steps for all first-time investors.  Such a change of status remains valid only while the applicant remains in the United States.  Once the applicant has left the United States, he or she requires an E visa to return and resume the running of his or her business.  Change of status does not guarantee the issuance of a visa nor does it exempt the investor from the normal process of filing documents in advance with the Embassy in Santiago.

Example of E-1 versus E-2

A Chilean business harvesting agricultural goods exports some of its products to the United States. The company, however, has no retail stores of its own nor any plant in the United States. If the volume of trade is significant and continuous and if its Chile-US trade makes up more than 50% of its total international trade, then the business could qualify for Treaty Trader status and the owner of the business or some of its employees might be eligible for E-1 visas. Alternatively, a Chilean investor might purchase 75% of a business located in Miami, for example. The business operates at a profit and employs over 40 people, most of whom are American citizens. If all the other conditions for the visa are met, the investor could obtain an E-2 visa to enter the United States in order to operate his/her business and oversee his/her investment. He or she would also be able to send qualified employees who are Chilean citizens to work in the business if they meet certain specific requirements.