E1 investor visa applicants must be involved in an international trading business. Trading means buying and selling of goods. Trade must be in existence between the US and the treaty country prior to applying for the E1 investor visa.
An E1 investor visa applicant must purchase an existing business or set up a new company by placing money and assets into the name of the company. An applicant should be prepared to invest approximately US $75,000 or more, but there is no specific minimum amount of money required. The actual amount of money to be invested by the applicant will depend on the nature of the business. Thus, the US Embassy or USCIS will review each application on case-by-case basis.
An E1 investor visa applicant must irrevocably invest the funds and usually it should be a documented bank transfer from the foreign treaty country. Further, the funds of the applicant should be at risk of loss meaning that a transfer of funds to a US bank alone will not suffice. Affirmative steps must be taken by the applicant such as securing a lease, purchase of the business premises, purchase of necessary equipment and purchase of inventory.
The E1 investor visa applicant must control the company through at least 50% ownership or a managerial position. The business must generate enough income to support the E1 investor visa applicant and their family in the US. However, the business of the E1 investor visa applicant must also employ or create jobs for US citizens or green card holder.
If the applicant is not the E1 investor, they must be an executive of the company or possess specialized work skills that are essential to the operations. The E1 investor must maintain the business operations in order to renew their E1 investor visa in the future.
The E1 investor may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission as E1 visa applicants and will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. Spouses of E1 investors may apply for work authorization and there is no specific restriction as to where the E1 spouse may work.
The US State Department’s current list of countries from which their citizens can apply for E1 investor visas can be found on their website.