What Is The Bilateral Investment Treaty between Ecuador and the US?

The treaty came into force between Ecuador and the US in 1997. The purpose of the treaty is to encourage international commercial trade between the two countries.

The Department of State announced on 18 May 2018 that the Ecuador-US bilateral investment treaty has been terminated. Ecuador provided notice of its wish to terminate the treaty in the previous year.

The US has several bilateral treaties with various countries, each with its own guidelines for what happens when the treaty is terminated.

What Is The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

The E-2 investor visa, a non-immigrant visa, allows  foreign nationals to  visit  and  reside  in  the  US  “in  pursuance  of  the  provisions of  a  treaty  of  commerce  and  navigation”.

In other words, the E-2 visa allows those nationals (or, in the case of this article, specifically Ecuadorian nationals) to  enter the US in order to develop and direct the operations of a US business enterprise in which he or she has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, a “substantial” amount of capital in.

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also apply for dependent E-2 visas. These are valid for the same length of time as the applicant national’s successful E-2 visa. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also study in the US (without needing to apply for and obtaining an F-1 student visa). Spouses can also apply for employment authorization if they wish to work in the US, including for the E-2 business enterprise itself.

E-2 visas for Ecuadorian nationals have a reciprocity period (the maximum amount of time the visa can be issued for) of up to 3 months. This means that the Ecuadorian national has 3 months to enter the US. They are then allowed a maximum stay of two years regardless of the reciprocity period. Ecuadorian nationals may also leave and re-enter the US twice on this visa within this 3 month period. The Ecuadorian national should be given two years’ stay each time that they use the visa to re-enter the US.

Provided the E-2 company continues to trade, the E-2 visa can be renewed an infinite number of times. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 will also have their dependent E-2 visas renewed for the same period, as long as there have been no material change in circumstances.

How Will The Termination Of The Ecuadorian-US Bilateral Treaty Affect E-2 Visa Investors?

As per the individual termination guidelines within the Ecuadoran-US bilateral treaty, the treaty will apply for a further 10 years from the termination date of 18 May 2018.

Therefore, any qualifying investments within the US that were made or acquired by an Ecuadorian national before 18 May 2018 will still be covered by the treaty until 18 May 2028.

Renewals and new applications for E-2 visas by Ecuadorian nationals can therefore still be made and considered until 18 May 2028 as long as the qualifying investment is established or made in the US before this date.

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can also renew or make new dependent E-2 visa applications until 18 May 2028 as well.

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Published: 5th June 2018