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EB-5 Visas for Foreign Nationals- Pathway to US Citizenship

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Foreign Investment in the U.S. and Conditional Visas

Certain Countries have Treaties with the United States- Foreign capital at-risk in America

Investor Visas*

Overview

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. For a list of participating countries, select Treaty Countries. 

You must be coming to the United States to:

•engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country; or 

•develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital.

For more information on business investment in the United States, see the U.S. Department of Commerce website SelectUSA. 

Trade for Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor purposes – Examples:

These are some examples of types of enterprises that constitute trade under E visa provisions.

•international banking

•insurance

•transportation

•tourism

•communications

To qualify for a Treaty Trader (E-1) Visa

•You must be a citizen of a treaty country.

•The trading firm for which you plan to come to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise. 

•The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.

•More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country.

•Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade 

items must pass from one party to the other. 

•You must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify. 

To qualify for a Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa

•The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have the citizenship of a treaty country.

•If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.

•The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. 

•The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment. 

•It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States. 

•You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed. 

•You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify. 

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply. 

Complete the Online Visa Application

•Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview. 

•Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements. 

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular 

officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age. 

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. embassy or consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence. 

If you are age: Than an interview is: 

13 and younger Generally not required 

14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals) 

80 and older Generally not required 

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply. 

Prepare for Your Interview

•Fees - Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. For current fees for Department of State government services select Fees. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable to your nationality. Please review the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance fee. 

•Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment. 

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

•Passport valid for travel to the U.S. - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U.S. (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application. 

•Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page

•Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview 

•Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements. 

•Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application, Form DS-156E – This form is required for: ◦all E-1 treaty trader visa applicants; and

◦E-2 treaty investor visa applicants, if you are an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. 

Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa applicants must establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law and complies with the many requirements for the E visa category. The consular officer may provide you with special forms to complete for this purpose. You should expect that the consular officer will reque