E Visas – FAQ



Q: Must the trading company exist and/or the investment have been made before the visa can be issued?

A: Trade must already be established at the time of visa application.  Investments, however, may be prospective, provided that the funds are irrevocably committed to the investment, contingent only upon the issuance of the visa.  Investment funds may come from any country, including the United States, as long as they are controlled by the investor.

Q: What is substantial trade?

A: Substantial trade contemplates a continuous flow of trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country.  This means numerous transactions rather than a single transaction regardless of monetary value.

Q: What is a substantial investment? 

A: There is no fixed amount which is considered “substantial.”  A substantial amount of capital constitutes that amount which is ample to ensure the investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise as measured by the proportionality test.  The proportionality test compares the total amount invested in the enterprise with the cost of establishing a viable enterprise of the nature contemplated or the amount of capital needed to purchase an existing enterprise.

The investment must do more than merely yield a return capable of supporting the investor and family.  A marginal enterprise is an enterprise which does not have the capacity to generate significantly more than enough income to provide a living for the investor, family and other alien employees.

Q: Are joint ventures permitted?

A: Yes, provided that the individual investor applying for the visa is in a position to “develop and direct” the enterprise.  The applicant is in such a position by controlling the enterprise through ownership of at least 50% of the business, possessing operational control through a marginal position or other corporate device, or by other means showing the applicant controls the enterprise.

Q: How long may the Treaty Trader or Investor stay in the U.S.?

A: The applicant must have the intention of departing the U.S. upon conclusion of the commercial activities.  Nevertheless, holders of E visas may reside in the U.S. as long as they continue to meet E visa qualifications.

“Essential employees” may remain only as long as their skills are required to operate the business, and only as long as the owner can show either that U.S. workers cannot be trained to duplicate the skills or that the owner is making reasonable efforts to train U.S. workers as replacements.

The maximum length for which an E-1 or E-2 visa can be issued to a citizen of Italy is 5 years.  However, whether or not to issue for that length of time is solely the judgment of the consular officer deciding the case.  

On initial entry, immigration officials will authorize the length of stay permitted in the U.S., with extensions generally available for as long as the E visa holder and family maintain their E visa status.

Upon expiration of the visa, the trader/investor or employee may apply to renew the visa.  There is no limit on renewals, so long as the applicant continues to qualify.

Q: I changed status in the U.S.  Can I apply as a renewal?

A: No.  Traders/investors who have changed status in the United States with USCIS must follow the steps for all first-time investors.  Such a change of status remains valid only while the applicant remains in the United States.  Once the applicant has left the United States, he or she requires an E visa to return and resume the running of his or her business.  Change of status does not guarantee the issuance of a visa nor does it exempt the investor from the normal process of filing documents in advance with the Embassy in Rome.

Q: How can I apply for my company to be recognized as a vetted company?

A:  Embassy Rome identifies these companies independently and does not accept requests or applications to be added to the list of vetted E visa enterprises.