Important notice before reading this post: nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice and is for educational purposes only.
Non-immigrant E-type visas (E-1 and E-2), although originally intended for investors wanting to establish a business or trade with the United States, also apply to workers with the same citizenship that those companies want to recruit to develop their business.
Those are the first visa we got when we first moved to the U.S., Max and I. I had an E1 essential employee visa, and Max had an E2 essential employee visa (after his H1B was not selected). But we are not alone, other people by using USponsor Me also got their job in the USA under an E-2 or E-1 essential employee visa.
To petition for an E-1 or E-2, you, your entity, and the position offered should be eligible.
The employee must have one of the nationalities among this list of countries that have signed a trading treaty with the US.
A candidate eligible for the E-1 / E-2 Essential Employee visa:
– must be the same nationality of the investor(s) or company(is) that has(ve) majority ownership of the U.S. business of a company that has signed a trading treaty with the US, here the list of countries;
– will be a manager/supervisor or a worker with special skills making him or her essential to the running of the business.
The E1 Visa (or Treaty Trader Visa) is granted to foreign companies (same as your citizenship) wishing to make more than 50% of their trade (in goods or services) with the US. They also have to be based on American soil.
The E2 Visa (or Treaty Investor Visa) is for foreign investors (same as your citizenship) wishing to create or buy a company in the United States and own more than 50% of its shares.
It is necessary that the country of origin has some sort of agreement with the United States, here is the list of countries that have signed this agreement.
A company that meets the criteria for obtaining one of these two visas can then hire employees from its own country in the United States. The employee in question will then receive the E1 or E2 Essential Employee visa.
In order for a company to sponsor an E2 essential employee visa, it will need to:
- be based in the United States;
- have received a “substantial” investment by one or more investors of the same nationality as you;
- that this or these investors of the same nationality as you, own(s) a minimum of 50% of the shares;
- that your country (and therefore that of the majority investor(s) of the company) has signed a trading treaty with the USA (for which you can find the list above).
- What criteria must the employee fulfill?
Where can you find eligible companies to sponsor E-1 or E-2 visas based on your nationality?
If our visa algorithm tells you that either the E-1 or E-2 visa is the one that suits you best (because you meet E1 / E2 visa requirements), then you will only need to target the companies that meet the criteria we just saw.
On USponsor Me, we have compiled the list of:
- all companies that have sponsored an E-1 or E-2 visa in the past,
- as well as the nationality of the people who obtained this visa within those companies.
This allows us to deduce which companies are technically eligible to sponsor the E1 or E2 visa depending on your nationality since they have already done so. We also know when these companies have sponsored this type of visa for the last time, which gives us a better degree of confidence.
To find these companies, once you have a USponsor Me account, you just have to go to the “Companies” tab at the top right of your screen. Then, filter on the “E-1” and “E-2” visas, and type your nationality. Our search engine will return all companies that can technically sponsor your E1 or E2 visa! More information about how to find E1 and E2 sponsor companies is here.
You can also search for open jobs in your field offered by these companies. This time, click on the “job” tab of the application, filter on “E-1” and “E-2” visa, and your nationality. Then, look for offers with the keywords of the position you are looking for. You will also be able to search with the location you target if any.
The position should be an essential function in the company; you must be hired as a manager or supervisor, or simply have special skills essential to the proper functioning and development of the company.
To issue the E2 essential employee visa, the U.S. immigration services are looking at:
- your proven degree of expertise (diplomas, professional experience) for the position in question;
- your future salary;
- the nature of your future position (you should not be a consultant and work for a client for example);
- if the company that wants to recruit you does not have any other workers with these skills.
You will need to prove your ability to be an active part of your future company’s development. And, therefore, your qualifications and experience in a specific area. Do not worry; the immigration lawyer will help with this. On the other hand, it may not be your best option if you just switch careers.
You can only have one position at the same time and only work for one company. You will be dependent on your company, and you will not be able to work for another employer with the same visa.
To find out if you are eligible for an E-1 or E-2 essential employee visa, I invite you to take this quiz and run our visa algorithm here. This will show you which visa suits you best.
Length of Stay
E-1/E-2 Visa & Employment Duration
The E-1 & E-2 expiration date varies depending on the Treaty country and can be renewed indefinitely as long as you, your entity, and the position are still compliant with the visa criteria. To see the duration of E-1 or E-2 for you, go here, select the first letter of your country of citizenship, select your country of citizenship, select “E” in visa classifications, and check the “Validity Period” of the line “E-1” and “E-2”.
You’ll be tied to working for your E1/E2 employer(s). Your E1/E2 is valid until its expiration date except if:
- You are laid off or if you take the decision to end your current employment;
- Your company does not meet the visa criteria anymore. For example, foreign investors (same as your citizenship) do not own more than 50% anymore following an acquisition or fundraising.
You will not be granted additional time to stay in the country while you search for a new job if you have already left your company. You will automatically lose your visa if you stop working for your company, and will be forced to leave the US immediately.
Visa & Employment Transfer
As long as your E1/E2 is valid, you, your new entity, and your new occupation are eligible for an E1/E2, your new employer will be able to petition for you without the need for you to leave the USA.
There are no restrictions that restrain you to file for or get another type of visa other than the E1/E2 when you have a valid E1/E2 visa or after.
The transition to the Green Card will be more complicated than for some other types of visa. This is because it is not the purpose of an E1 or E2 visa to let you stay in the territory.
Compensation & Benefits
You will be paid as an American is paid for the same position.
It is not because a company has exchanges with your country, or is mostly owned by people from your citizenship that it will have a 100% culture of your citizenship. I saw a lot of different configurations … Companies with 100% American employees and no other different country culture. In other cases, the company recruited a team with mostly employees from foreign cultures.
You will, therefore, generally have the opportunity to evolve in a mixed environment. Most often, the corporate culture is both close to your country’s (because of its main shareholder or since it is a subsidiary). But also the American culture. This will allow you to live a more rewarding experience, and better integrate into the US.
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age can be your dependents and will be able to come and live in the United States with you under an E-1D or E-2D visa.
Your spouse and children under an E-1D/E-2D will be able to study in the United States.
Your spouse under an E-1D/E-2D will be able to file for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) after your arrival and will be able to work in the U.S.A in any sector. Count on an average of 3 months to get the EAD. The duration of your spouse’s visa will generally be the same as yours.
You will need to provide that you are married (no other contracts are recognized in the US).
Process Step by Step
Here is the process in this right order:
- Find a job at an entity of your nationality willing to sponsor you for an E-1 or E-2
- Your entity files an E1/E2 petition with you
- Apply for the E1/E2 (if you are outside the USA)
- Get the E1/E2 visa and travel to the USA (if you are outside the USA)
You can not skip any steps. For example, if you haven’t got any job proposal from an entity of your nationality willing to sponsor you for an E1/E2, this entity will not be able to file an E1/E2 petition with you. And if your entity hasn’t filed any E1/E2 petition and got approved for it, you won’t be able to apply for the E1/E2 visa.
Job Search Duration
Your job search duration (step 1 above) will vary depending on your profile and how hard the difficulty is for U.S. employers to hire in your field.
By using USponsorMe, you’ll save 10x more time, see why here. Our jobs are with E1/E2 visa sponsorship offered for your citizenship. But more importantly, when you subscribe to one of our USponsorMe+ plans, we will tell you if your project is feasible or not with an E1/E2 or what is missing in your profile to be feasible, how long we estimate your job search will take, and we will select E1/E2 jobs for you and send them to you.
The time to get a job by using USponsorMe varies depending on the number of jobs you receive and apply for per month, your fit for the jobs, the quality of your applications, and your performance at job interviews. For example, a USponsorMe member with all licenses and credentials needed, with an American resume and cover letter rewritten by an expert, who applies for 5 or more targeted jobs on USponsorMe weekly and is ready to master job interviews, usually gets the ideal job offer with visa sponsorship within 4 months.
Visa Process Duration
The visa process is from steps 2 to 4 above.
It usually takes 3 months for candidates to obtain an E1/E2 visa. You can apply for your E1/E2 anytime during the year, there is no annual deadline and no cap.
The cost for an E-1 / E-2 visa is $5,000 to $11,000. This amount is the evaluation of an immigration lawyer’s legal fees. That’s why the range is large because the fees are related to the lawyer you and your company will work with. Otherwise, the filing fees for the E2 visa application are $460 USD + $205 USD (please verify, the amount can change).
It is often covered by the company. If it is not the case, you will have to include this amount in your expatriation budget.
Tell us more about you, and it will automatically calculate your eligibility for E-1 / E-2 Essential Employee visas for free. By enrolling in our premium subscription, your eligibility will be manually verified by our team. If we discover you do not qualify for one of the visas we have jobs for, we will cancel your subscription and fully refund you. If you prefer, you can order the manual verification separately before enrolling.