Treaty traders and investors
(1) Treaty trader. An alien, if otherwise admissible, may be classified as a nonimmigrant treaty trader (E–1) under the provisions of section 101(a)(15)(E)(i) of the Act if the alien:
(i) Will be in the United States solely to carry on trade of a substantial nature, which is international in scope, either on the alien’s behalf or as an employee of a foreign person or organization engaged in trade principally between the United States and the treaty country of which the alien is a national, taking into consideration any conditions in the country of which the alien is a national which may affect the alien’s ability to carry on such substantial trade; and
(ii) Intends to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of treaty trader (E–1) status.
(2) Treaty investor. An alien, if otherwise admissible, may be classified as a nonimmigrant treaty investor (E–2) under the provision of section 101(a)(15)(E)(ii) of the Act if the alien:
(i) Has invested or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States, as distinct from a relatively small amount of capital in a marginal enterprise solely for the purpose of earning a living;
(ii) Is seeking entry solely to develop and direct the enterprise; and
(iii) Intends to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of treaty investor (E–2) status.
(3) Employee of treaty trader or treaty investor. An alien employee of a treaty trader, if otherwise admissible, may be classified as E–1, and an alien employee of a treaty investor, if otherwise admissible, may be classified as E–2 if the employee is in or is coming to the United States to engage in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or, if employed in a lesser capacity, the employee has special qualifications that make the alien’s services essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise. The employee must have the same nationality as the principal alien employer. In addition, the employee must intend to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of E–1 or E–2 status. The principal alien employer must be:
(i) A person in the United States having the nationality of the treaty country and maintaining nonimmigrant treaty trader or treaty investor status or, if not in the United States, would be classifiable as a treaty trader or treaty investor; or
(ii) An enterprise or organization at least 50 percent owned by persons in the United States having the nationality of the treaty country and maintaining nonimmigrant treaty trader or treaty investor status or who, if not in the United States, would be classifiable as treaty traders or treaty investors.
(4) Spouse and children of treaty trader or treaty investor. The spouse and child of a treaty trader or treaty investor accompanying or following to join the principal alien, if otherwise admissible, may receive the same classification as the principal alien. The nationality of a spouse or child of a treaty trader or treaty investor is not material to the classification of the spouse or child under the provisions of section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act.
(5) Nonimmigrant intent. An alien classified under section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act shall maintain an intention to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of E–1 or E–2 status. However, an application for initial admission, change of status, or extension of stay in E classification may not be denied solely on the basis of an approved request for permanent labor certification or a filed or approved immigrant visa preference petition.
(6) Treaty country. A treaty country is, for purposes of this section, a foreign state with which a qualifying Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent exists with the United States. A treaty country includes a foreign state that is accorded treaty visa privileges under section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act by specific legislation.
(7) Treaty country nationality. The nationality of an individual treaty trader or treaty investor is determined by the authorities of the foreign state of which the alien is a national. In the case of an enterprise or organization, ownership must be traced as best as is practicable to the individuals who are ultimately its owners.
(8) Terms and conditions of E treaty status —(i) Limitations on employment. The Service determines the terms and conditions of E treaty status at the time of admission or approval of a request to change nonimmigrant status to E classification. A treaty trader, treaty investor, or treaty employee may engage only in employment which is consistent with the terms and conditions of his or her status and the activity forming the basis for the E treaty status.
(ii) Subsidiary employment. Treaty employees may perform work for the parent treaty organization or enterprise, or any subsidiary of the parent organization or enterprise. Performing work for subsidiaries of a common parent enterprise or organization will not be deemed to constitute a substantive change in the terms and conditions of the underlying E treaty employment if, at the time the E treaty status was determined, the applicant presented evidence establishing:
(A) The enterprise or organization, and any subsidiaries thereof, where the work will be performed; the requisite parent-subsidiary relationship; and that the subsidiary independently qualifies as a treaty organization or enterprise under this paragraph;
(B) In the case of an employee of a treaty trader or treaty investor, the work to be performed requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills; and
(C) The work is consistent with the terms and conditions of the activity forming the basis of the classification.
(iii) Substantive changes. Prior Service approval must be obtained where there will be a substantive change in the terms or conditions of E status. In such cases, a treaty alien must file a new application on Form I–129 and E supplement, in accordance with the instructions on that form, requesting extension of stay in the United States. In support of an alien’s Form I–129 application, the treaty alien must submit evidence of continued eligibility for E classification in the new capacity. Alternatively, the alien must obtain from a consular officer a visa reflecting the new terms and conditions and subsequently apply for admission at a port-of-entry. The Service will deem there to have been a substantive change necessitating the filing of a new Form I–129 application in cases where there has been a fundamental change in the employing entity’s basic characteristics, such as a merger, acquisition, or sale of the division where the alien is employed.
(iv) Non-substantive changes. Prior approval is not required, and there is no need to file a new Form I–129, if there is no substantive, or fundamental, change in the terms or conditions of the alien’s employment which would affect the alien’s eligibility for E classification. Further, prior approval is not required if corporate changes occur which do not affect the previously approved employment relationship, or are otherwise non-substantive. To facilitate admission, the alien may:
(A) Present a letter from the treaty-qualifying company through which the alien attained E classification explaining the nature of the change;
(B) Request a new Form I–797, Approval Notice, reflecting the non-substantive change by filing Form I–129, with fee, and a complete description of the change, or;
(C) Apply directly to Department of State for a new E visa reflecting the change. An alien who does not elect one of the three options contained in paragraph (e)(8)(iv) (A) through (C) of this section, is not precluded from demonstrating to the satisfaction of the immigration officer at the port-of-entry in some other manner, his or her admissibility under section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act.
(v) Advice. To ascertain whether a change is substantive, an alien may file Form I–129, with fee, and a complete description of the change, to request appropriate advice. In cases involving multiple employees, an alien may request that USCIS determine if a merger or other corporate restructuring requires the filing of separate applications by filing a single Form I–129, with fee, and attaching a list of the related receipt numbers for the employees involved and an explanation of the change or changes.
(vi) Approval. If an application to change the terms and conditions of E status or employment is approved, the Service shall notify the applicant on Form I–797. An extension of stay in nonimmigrant E classification may be granted for the validity of the approved application. The alien is not authorized to begin the new employment until the application is approved. Employment is authorized only for the period of time the alien remains in the United States. If the alien subsequently departs from the United States, readmission in E classification may be authorized where the alien presents his or her unexpired E visa together with the Form I–797, Approval Notice, indicating Service approval of a change of employer or of a change in the substantive terms or conditions of treaty status or employment in E classification, or, in accordance with 22 CFR 41.112(d), where the alien is applying for readmission after an absence not exceeding 30 days solely in contiguous territory.
(vii) An unauthorized change of employment to a new employer will constitute a failure to maintain status within the meaning of section 237(a)(1)(C)(i) of the Act. In all cases where the treaty employee will be providing services to a subsidiary under this paragraph, the subsidiary is required to comply with the terms of 8 CFR part 274a.
(9) Trade—definitions. For purposes of this paragraph: Items of trade include but are not limited to goods, services, international banking, insurance, monies, transportation, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, tourism, technology and its transfer, and some news-gathering activities. For purposes of this paragraph, goods are tangible commodities or merchandise having extrinsic value. Further, as used in this paragraph, services are legitimate economic activities which provide other than tangible goods.
Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Existing trade includes successfully negotiated contracts binding upon the parties which call for the immediate exchange of items of trade. Domestic trade or the development of domestic markets without international exchange does not constitute trade for purposes of section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act. This exchange must be traceable and identifiable. Title to the trade item must pass from one treaty party to the other.
(10) Substantial trade. Substantial trade is an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the United States and the treaty country. This continuous flow contemplates numerous transactions over time. Treaty trader status may not be established or maintained on the basis of a single transaction, regardless of how protracted or monetarily valuable the transaction. Although the monetary value of the trade item being exchanged is a relevant consideration, greater weight will be given to more numerous exchanges of larger value. There is no minimum requirement with respect to the monetary value or volume of each individual transaction. In the case of smaller businesses, an income derived from the value of numerous transactions which is sufficient to support the treaty trader and his or her family constitutes a favorable factor in assessing the existence of substantial trade.
(11) Principal trade. Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50 percent of the volume of international trade of the treaty trader is conducted between the United States and the treaty country of the treaty trader’s nationality.
(12) Investment. An investment is the treaty investor’s placing of capital, including funds and other assets (which have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, through criminal activity), at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The treaty investor must be in possession of and have control over the capital invested or being invested. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if investment fortunes reverse. Such investment capital must be the investor’s unsecured personal business capital or capital secured by personal assets. Capital in the process of being invested or that has been invested must be irrevocably committed to the enterprise. The alien has the burden of establishing such irrevocable commitment. The alien may use any legal mechanism available, such as the placement of invested funds in escrow pending admission in, or approval of, E classification, that would not only irrevocably commit funds to the enterprise, but might also extend personal liability protection to the treaty investor in the event the application for E classification is denied.
(13) Bona fide enterprise. The enterprise must be a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit. The enterprise must meet applicable legal requirements for doing business in the particular jurisdiction in the United States.
(14) Substantial amount of capital. A substantial amount of capital constitutes an amount which is:
(i) Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or creating the type of enterprise under consideration;
(ii) Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise; and
(iii) Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. Generally, the lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered a substantial amount of capital.
(15) Marginal enterprise. For purposes of this section, an enterprise may not be marginal. A marginal enterprise is an enterprise that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family. An enterprise that does not have the capacity to generate such income, but that has a present or future capacity to make a significant economic contribution is not a marginal enterprise. The projected future income-generating capacity should generally be realizable within 5 years from the date the alien commences the normal business activity of the enterprise.
(16) Solely to develop and direct. An alien seeking classification as a treaty investor (or, in the case of an employee of a treaty investor, the owner of the treaty enterprise) must demonstrate that he or she does or will develop and direct the investment enterprise. Such an applicant must establish that he or she controls the enterprise by demonstrating ownership of at least 50 percent of the enterprise, by possessing operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device, or by other means.
(17) Executive and supervisory character. The applicant’s position must be principally and primarily, as opposed to incidentally or collaterally, executive or supervisory in nature. Executive and supervisory duties are those which provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the enterprise’s overall operation or a major component thereof. In determining whether the applicant has established possession of the requisite control and responsibility, a Service officer shall consider, where applicable:
(i) That an executive position is one which provides the employee with great authority to determine the policy of, and the direction for, the enterprise;
(ii) That a position primarily of supervisory character provides the employee supervisory responsibility for a significant proportion of an enterprise’s operations and does not generally involve the direct supervision of low-level employees, and;
(iii) Whether the applicant possesses executive and supervisory skills and experience; a salary and position title commensurate with executive or supervisory employment; recognition or indicia of the position as one of authority and responsibility in the overall organizational structure; responsibility for making discretionary decisions, setting policies, directing and managing business operations, supervising other professional and supervisory personnel; and that, if the position requires some routine work usually performed by a staff employee, such functions may only be of an incidental nature.
(18) Special qualifications. Special qualifications are those skills and/or aptitudes that an employee in a lesser capacity brings to a position or role that are essential to the successful or efficient operation of the treaty enterprise. In determining whether the skills possessed by the alien are essential to the operation of the employing treaty enterprise, a Service officer must consider, where applicable:
(i) The degree of proven expertise of the alien in the area of operations involved; whether others possess the applicant’s specific skill or aptitude; the length of the applicant’s experience and/or training with the treaty enterprise; the period of training or other experience necessary to perform effectively the projected duties; the relationship of the skill or knowledge to the enterprise’s specific processes or applications, and the salary the special qualifications can command; that knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet the special qualifications requirement, and;
(ii) Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States. In all cases, in determining whether the applicant possesses special qualifications which are essential to the treaty enterprise, a Service officer must take into account all the particular facts presented. A skill that is essential at one point in time may become commonplace at a later date. Skills that are needed to start up an enterprise may no longer be essential after initial operations are complete and running smoothly. Some skills are essential only in the short-term for the training of locally hired employees. Under certain circumstances, an applicant may be able to establish his or her essentiality to the treaty enterprise for a longer period of time, such as, in connection with activities in the areas of product improvement, quality control, or the provision of a service not yet generally available in the United States. Where the treaty enterprise’s need for the applicant’s special qualifications, and therefore, the applicant’s essentiality, is time-limited, Service officers may request that the applicant provide evidence of the period for which skills will be needed and a reasonable projected date for completion of start-up or replacement of the essential skilled workers.
(19) Period of admission. Periods of admission are as follows:
(i) A treaty trader or treaty investor may be admitted for an initial period of not more than 2 years.
(ii) The spouse and minor children accompanying or following to join a treaty trader or treaty investor shall be admitted for the period during which the principal alien is in valid treaty trader or investor status. The temporary departure from the United States of the principal trader or investor shall not affect the derivative status of the dependent spouse and minor unmarried children, provided the familial relationship continues to exist and the principal remains eligible for admission as an E nonimmigrant to perform the activity.
(iii) Unless otherwise provided for in this chapter, an alien shall not be admitted in E classification for a period of time extending more than 6 months beyond the expiration date of the alien’s passport.
(20) Extensions of stay. Requests for extensions of stay may be granted in increments of not more than 2 years. A treaty trader or treaty investor in valid E status may apply for an extension of stay by filing an application for extension of stay on Form I–129 and E Supplement, with required accompanying documents, in accordance with §214.1 and the instructions on that form.
(i) For purposes of eligibility for an extension of stay, the alien must prove that he or she:
(A) Has at all times maintained the terms and conditions of his or her E nonimmigrant classification;
(B) Was physically present in the United States at the time of filing the application for extension of stay; and
(C) Has not abandoned his or her extension request.
(ii) With limited exceptions, it is presumed that employees of treaty enterprises with special qualifications who are responsible for start-up operations should be able to complete their objectives within 2 years. Absent special circumstances, therefore, such employees will not be eligible to obtain an extension of stay.
(iii) Subject to paragraph (e)(5) of this section and the presumption noted in paragraph (e)(22)(ii) of this section, there is no specified number of extensions of stay that a treaty trader or treaty investor may be granted.
(21) Change of nonimigrant status. (i) An alien in another valid nonimmigrant status may apply for change of status to E classification by filing an application for change of status on Form I–129 and E Supplement, with required accompanying documents establishing eligibility for a change of status and E classification, in accordance with 8 CFR part 248 and the instructions on Form I–129 and E Supplement.
(ii) The spouse or minor children of an applicant seeking a change of status to that of treaty trader or treaty investor alien shall file concurrent applications for change of status to derivative treaty classification on the appropriate Service form. Applications for derivative treaty status shall:
(A) Be approved only if the principal treaty alien is granted treaty alien status and continues to maintain that status;
(B) Be approved for the period of admission authorized in paragraph (e)(20) of this section.
(22) Denial of treaty trader or treaty investor status to citizens of Canada or Mexico in the case of certain labor disputes. (i) A citizen of Canada or Mexico may be denied E treaty trader or treaty investor status as described in section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act and section B of Annex 1603 of the NAFTA if:
(A) The Secretary of Labor certifies to or otherwise informs the Commissioner that a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage of workers in the alien’s occupational classification is in progress at the place where the alien is or intends to be employed; and
(B) Temporary entry of that alien may affect adversely either:
( 1 ) The settlement of any labor dispute that is in progress at the place or intended place of employment, or
( 2 ) The employment of any person who is involved in such dispute.
(ii) If the alien has already commenced employment in the United States and is participating in a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage of workers, whether or not such strike or other labor dispute has been certified by the Secretary of Labor, or whether the Service has been otherwise informed that such a strike or labor dispute is in progress, the alien shall not be deemed to be failing to maintain his or her status solely on account of past, present, or future participation in a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage of workers, but is subject to the following terms and conditions:
(A) The alien shall remain subject to all applicable provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and regulations promulgated in the same manner as all other E nonimmigrants; and
(B) The status and authorized period of stay of such an alien is not modified or extended in any way by virtue of his or her participation in a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage of workers.
(iii) Although participation by an E nonimmigrant alien in a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage of workers will not constitute a ground for deportation, any alien who violates his or her status or who remains in the United States after his or her authorized period of stay has expired will be subject to deportation.
(iv) If there is a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage of workers in progress, but such strike or other labor dispute is not certified under paragraph (e)(22)(i) of this section, or the Service has not otherwise been informed by the Secretary that such a strike or labor dispute is in progress, the Commissioner shall not deny entry to an applicant for E status.