"E" or "treaty" visas are available to persons or entities engaging in trade between the United States and their home country or persons and entities coming to the United States to develop and direct enterprises in the United States in which they are investing substantial amounts of capital. The E-2 category includes individual investors as well as managers, executives, and "essential skills" employees of business entities that make the investment. As a threshold issue, in order for a foreign national to qualify for this visa there must be a trader or investor treaty between the United States and the applicant's home country. For treaty traders, the company set up in the United States must be at least 50% owned by a treaty country national, but the applicant does not have to be an owner of the business. There must be a "substantial" flow of trade (either goods or services) between the U.S. business and the treaty national's home country. The USCIS determines whether the trade is substantial on a case-by-case basis. Factors that may be considered include the nature of the business, the number of transactions, the quantity of trade and the outlay of capital.
With respect to an investment visa, again the business must be at least 50% owned by treaty nationals and there must be a substantial investment, which like the treaty-trader visa is determined on a case-by-case basis. The investor must have experience in the business and must be actively involved. The investor cannot simply invest in a company run by someone else. An E visa holder is normally admitted to the United States for a two-year period with unlimited two-year renewals. Spouses of E visa holders may apply for work authorization.