In sunny South Florida, there are many opportunities for entrepreneurial foreign nationals to secure a valid immigration status that is connected to their business enterprise. One of the primary ways that business owners can obtain a valid U.S. Immigration status is through the E-1/E-2 visa program for Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors. While the E-1/E-2 program is an excellent choice for entrepreneurs, especially prospective small business owners who do not have sufficient funds to qualify for the EB-5 program, the main limitation of this program is that it is only available to citizens of certain “Treaty Countries” that have established treaties of “commerce and navigation” with the United States.
As a South Florida Immigration Lawyer, I am frequently asked whether nationals of a particular South American or Latin American country can apply for E-1 or E-2 visas. In an effort to make the answer to this question freely available, I have constructed the list below. As you will note, while most countries on the list are both E-1 and E-2 treaty countries, others are only E-2 treaty countries (such as Ecuador and Panama).
Something else that I have seen with greater frequency over the years (especially in South Florida) is that some nationals of South American or Latin American countries are dual nationals of both a country that does not qualify (usually their country of residence) and a country that is a treaty trader or treaty country. For example, I have seen multiple instances of Brazilian nationals who are dual nationals of Italy (which they may have obtained through their parents) which is an E-1 and an E-2 treaty country. This means that they can qualify for E-1 or E-2 status through their Italian nationality, provided however, that they APPLY FOR or ENTER the U.S. using their treaty country (Italian) passport. If you want to read more on this issue, check out my earlier blog post on Dual Nationals and Matter of Ognibene. Note also that dual nationals who qualify under these circumstances do not have to travel to the treaty country, but instead, may apply in their non-treaty country, which is often their country of residence (ie. Brazil).
One more point worth noting is that derivative dependents (spouses or children) who do NOT hold the dual nationality may “piggy back” on the principal’s treaty nationality and also obtain E visa status even though they do not have the nationality of the treaty country. For example, this would be the case where a dual national of Brazil and Italy marries a Brazilian national who does not have an Italian Passport.
The list of South American and Latin American countries and the available E Visa Classifications are:
Argentina: E-1 and E-2
Bolivia: E-1 and E-2
Chile: E-1 and E-2
Colombia: E-1 and E-2
Costa Rica: E-1 and E-2
Honduras: E-1 and E-2
Mexico: E-1 and E-2
Paraguay: E-1 and E-2
To schedule a consultation with South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel, call (954) 385-3111 or e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.