By: Allison-Claire Acker, Esq. and Joseph M. Barnett, Esq.
In a positive development for promoting trade and commerce between the U.S. and France, the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France has recently allowed certain large, multinational corporations to undergo an expedited scheduling program for certain Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visa applications. We are hopeful that this program will be used as a pilot for E-visa application processing worldwide.
The E-1 and E-2 nonimmigrant visa categories are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. An applicant must be coming to the U.S. to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the U.S. and the treaty country (E-1), or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested a substantial amount of capital (E-2). Employees of the Treaty Investor engaged in executive or supervisory duties, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications which share the same nationality of the principal alien employer also qualify for E-2 visa classification.
To apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa, an applicant must complete a number of steps. The order of these steps and how they must be completed vary based on the U.S. consular post to which the applicant applies. While the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) Field Adjudicators Manual (“FAM”) suggests documentation that may establish an alien’s eligibility for an E-1 or E-2 visa, other information and evidence may be submitted by the visa applicant to satisfy the consular officer. An E visa applicant must adhere to the specific requirements of and appropriate format for the U.S. consular post. Applications which do not comply with the required format will be returned to the applicant.
Companies must meet the following three requirements to be eligible for expedited scheduling at the U.S. Embassy in Paris:
- The company has been incorporated and doing business in the U.S. for at least two years; and
- The company and its U.S. affiliates have either
- Combined annual sales of more than $10M; or
- A U.S. work force of at least 500 employees; and
- The U.S. Embassy in Paris, France has approved visas for at least 5 “E” managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals during the past 5 years.
To participate in the expedited scheduling program, a company must send the following information to ParisEVisaApplications@state.gov:
- A letter, signed by the company’s Chief Financial Officer, verifying the following information:
- Year and place of incorporation of the U.S. company;
- Number of employees in U.S. and worldwide;
- Gross sales of the U.S. company & gross revenues of the parent company and its affiliates;
- That at least 50 percent of U.S. company’s shares are directly or indirectly owned or controlled by French citizens;
- Total assets of the U.S. company;
- Certification that the U.S. company is an active commercial operation; and
- For E-1 companies only, that over 50% of the total volume of the international trade conducted by the treaty trader regardless of location is between the U.S. and the treaty country;
- A fully completed DS-156E Parts I and II, specifically:
- Section 14 “Type of Personnel in the United States”; and
- Section 15 “List all personnel of U.S. business holding executive, managerial and/or specialist positions by subsidiary/branch office. If aliens, indicate nonimmigrant visa status or lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.”
Once the U.S. Embassy Paris’ E visa office confirms that the U.S. company has been approved for the expediting scheduling program, employees sponsored by the U.S. company may utilize the standard application procedures for Non-Immigrant Visas, along with the submission of Part III of the DS-156E. Note that the U.S. company must reconfirm their eligibility for the expedited scheduling program every five years. The U.S. company is also obligated to notify the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France of major changes affecting the U.S. company (such as, but not limited to, change of ownership).
Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP welcomes the implementation of expedited scheduling programs at U.S. consular posts in an effort to ease the administrative burden of applicants applying for U.S. immigrant and nonimmigrant visas and believes such use should be expanded.
If you have any questions about this new program or would like assistance with an E-1 or E-2 visa application, please contact our immigration attorneys, so we can assist you in considering your eligibility.
This post is designed to provide practical and useful information on the subject matter covered. However, it is provided with the understanding that no legal, tax, accounting, or other professional services are being rendered or provided. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.