Comparison of the E2 Visa and E3 Visa

There are more than 180 different possible Visa classifications for legal entry into the United States. The E2 and E3 visas have an interesting history. They were created through specific treaties with certain other countries. The visas exist specifically for temporary workers in the US. Therefore, these workers must state that they do intend to return to their home country once their US business dealings have finished.

Both the E2 visa and the E3 visa were created for people from certain other countries that have found work in the US or intend to invest in a US business or startup.

While the E Visas were created based upon those countries in which the US shares a special treaty, that does not mean that the E visas are the same. While there are some shared features, there are unique features to each. Let’s dive into the similarities and differences between the E2 visa and the E3 visa.

What is the E2 Visa

The E2 visa was created for those investing in US businesses or startups that intend to live in the US while they manage their investment. Such visa holders are called treaty investors.

E2 Visa Eligibility

The US Code states that in order to be approved, an applicant for the E2 Visa must:

  1. be a national of a country that the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. The U.S. Department of State maintains an updated list of qualifying countries here.
  2. have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States.
  3. be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or some other corporate device.

The rules as listed above seem rather straightforward but there is more to understand about the E2 visa classification if this is the route you intend to go. What is a significant amount of capital? What does a bona fide enterprise mean? Our Guide to the E2 Visa Requirements and Application is for those seeking additional information specific to the E2 Visa and its particular requirements.

The E2 Visa petition process

As an E2 visa applicant, treaty investors may petition for a visa on their own behalf. If you are not the sole owner of the enterprise or organization, an E2 employee must have the same country of citizenship as the employer. While in the US and working for this enterprise you must either be employed in a managerial or supervisory capacity, or be otherwise essential to the business operations. A treaty investor may come into the US on any non-immigrant visa, and, when in the US, file a request to change status to an E2 visa.

Head to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (“USCIS”) website for forms and additional information.

What is the E3 Visa

The E3 visa classification exists only for nationals of Australia that have a legitimate offer of a job in the US in a specialty occupation. Under the E3 visa, the US defines a specialty occupation as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in professional fields and at least the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

E3 Visa Eligibility

To qualify for E3 visa classification, the general requirements for a specialty occupation professional from Australia are:

  • You are a national of Australia;
  • With a legitimate offer of employment in the United States;
  • You possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials; and
  • Will fill a position that qualifies as a specialty occupation.

The E3 Visa Petition Process

An E3 visa applicant must fill out Form I-129 along with certain supporting documentation. Detailed supporting documentation is vital to show the entirety of your situation.

Your Form I-129 must include the following documents:

  • A Labor Condition Application (LCA)
  • Academic or other credentials demonstrating qualifications for the position
  • Job offer letter or other documentation from the employer establishing that you will be engaged in a specialty occupation. Plus, the job must pay the higher of the actual or prevailing wage
  • If required, (before you may commence employment in the specialty occupation) you must have the necessary license or other official permission to practice in the specialty occupation

What Do the Visa Programs Share?

There are similarities between both the E2 and E3 visas. These similarities are some of the most attractive elements of either visa, too.

What About Family Members?

Under both visa classifications, the visa applicant’s family has the opportunity to come to the US, too. So, both one’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 can join. In both cases, the spouse does not have to come from the same country as the principal visa applicant.

Initial Length of Stay and Renewal

Earning one’s visa is only the first step. Luckily, these visas are better with this than others. With this, both the E2 visa and E3 visa classifications the length of stay is generally the same. The USCIS usually gives first time applicant’s two years. The best part about either visa is the unlimited number of extensions. As long as the visa holder continues to meet the requirements of their particular visa, they can be granted an unlimited number of extensions. The only downside is that the visa holder goes through the process often. Each extension lasts up to a period of two years.

What’s Next?

Are you a potential visa applicant? If so, your next steps differ based on which visa you choose. And while, the two visa classifications listed here have separate rules and requirements, there are still similarities in their application process. However, since both involve your country of residence, job, and money, it is best to discuss all of this with a seasoned immigration attorney.

LawTrades knows Immigration

Let us assist in your visa application process. One of our attorney’s can ensure that you, and your family, have your required visas. That way you are all set (and legally able) to accept your new role within the United States.