For most foreign nationals wanting to permanently live and work in the United States, the ultimate goal is to obtain a "green card" or permanent residency status. The most common method of obtaining permanent residency is through sponsorship by an employer or family member.
For wealthy individuals, a $1 million investment in a business that creates or preserves at least 10 full-time jobs is also an option. That amount is reduced to $500,000 where the business is located in areas of high unemployment or other qualifying rural areas.
However, where these options are unavailable, foreign nationals from countries with investment or commerce treaties with the United States may still obtain a visa to live and work in the United States by either investing in a business in the United States (E-1 visa) or by conducting trade with the United States (E-2 visa). The requirements of the E visa may be found in §101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act; 8 U.S.C.A. §1101(a)(15)(E).
The E visa category may be used by various types of companies, whether owned by individuals or large multinational corporations, and may be used by the company's principals or by its employees. Although the E visa is considered a non-immigrant visa, unlike other nonimmigrant visas, it may be renewed indefinitely and the
E visa holder may apply for a green card through the business supporting the E visa.
There are three basic requirements for obtaining an E-1 or E-2 visa. First, a treaty must exist between the United States and the foreign national's home country. Germany, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Pakistan, Iran, Japan and Australia are just some of the countries that have treaties with the United States. Second, majority ownership or control of the investing or trading company must be held by nationals of the foreign country. Third, every employee or principal of the company seeking E visa status must be a citizen of the foreign country where the company