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The Treaty Countries Requirement for the E-2 Visa 

Updated 19.06.24 4 minutes read
Immigration

The E-2 visa, commonly known as the investor visa, is designed to allow people to live and work in the United States because of an investment they have made there. As with other US business immigration programs, the purpose of the E-2 visa is to stimulate job creation and help entrepreneurs to promote the general economic welfare. 

Qualifying for the E-2 Visa

There are three general qualifications for E-2 classification. According to the USCIS website, to qualify for E-2 classification, an applicant must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

The first of those three points is our focus here, since this qualification is uncommon among US business visa programs. Only the E1 visa program, for traders rather than investors, also has this requirement. The important takeaway is that participation in the E-2 program is not available to everyone. 

The Treaty Countries Requirement for the E2 Visa

The E-2 nonimmigrant classification is limited to citizens of certain countries that have concluded an agreement or treaty with the United States. Only citizens of these countries may apply to be admitted when investing a substantial amount of capital in a US business. Holders of E-2 visas are referred to as “treaty investors”. 

There is no secondary option or alternative provision for clearing this prerequisite for eligibility for E-2 status. Those who are ineligible for E-2 status may consider the EB-2 NIW visa, which is for applicants with exceptional abilities that can contribute to the overall performance of the US economy.  

Who is on the List of E-2 Treaty Countries

The agreements that form the foundation of E-2 visa eligibility are concluded by the US Department of State. It’s difficult to find some logic or pattern when it comes to which countries are on the list and which are not. Less than half of the world’s nations are E-2 treaty partners with the United States. 

Some of the individual agreements date back to the 1850’s (Argentina) and other countries that you might expect to have long-standing agreements with the US are in fact among the newest partners (Denmark, 2008). Many of the world’s largest countries — including China, India, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia — are not on the list but Armenia, Honduras, Latvia and Senegal are. 

The Treaty Countries Requirement for the E2 Visa

Broadly speaking, most of the E-2 treaty countries are in Europe and South & Central America, with the rest scattered around the globe. There have only been ten new additions to the list since the year 2000. 

For the current list of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, visit the USCIS website

If you think the E-2 visa might be part of your professional path forward, reach out to learn how Joorney can help. 

Disclaimer: Joorney Business Plans is not a law firm nor an immigration consulting firm, and no information provided in this document should be considered as legal advice or recommendation regarding any immigration application program. All information provided in this document should be verified by a licensed or certified immigration professional before the reader can act on this information. As such, it is understood that Joorney Business Plans Inc. shall not be liable for any loss or damage of whatever nature (direct, indirect, consequential, or other), whether arising in contract, tort, or otherwise, which may arise as a result of your use of (or inability to use) this document, or from your use of (or failure to use) the information on this document.