The E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas

The E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas are, by far, the most popular U.S visas available to successful entrepreneurs. They enable foreign investors to obtain access to the world’s largest free market economy, thereby facilitating the development of an internationally recognized brand and maximizing profit margins.

In addition, the visas provide a wealth of benefits to the U.S economy. They facilitate job creation and provide a powerful economic stimulus in their host communities.

However, the E-1 and E-2 visa categories are not universally available to individuals of all nationalities. At the time of writing, New Zealand nationals are ineligible to apply for E-1 and E-2 visas.

Why Are New Zealand Nationals Ineligible for the E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas? 

The E-1 and E-2 visas have strict eligibility requirements. In order to be eligible to apply for an E-1 Treaty Trader Visa or an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, one must be a national of a country which has entered into a Bilateral Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the United States.

Remarkably, New Zealand does not have a Bilateral Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the U.S and therefore its nationals do not currently have access to the E-1 and E-2 visa categories.

At present, the only way a New Zealand national will be eligible to apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa is if they hold dual nationality with a country which has entered into a Bilateral Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the U.S and the firm in question shares the nationality of the Treaty country.

What Action Has Been Taken by New Zealand to Obtain Access to the E-1 and E-2 Visa Categories?

In recent months, a campaign by the New Zealand Embassy in Washington D.C to extend the E-1 and E-2 visa categories to New Zealand nationals has gained momentum.

In January 2017, it was reported that the New Zealand Embassy in Washington D.C had hired Stuart Jolly from Sonoran Policy Group, Donald Trump’s former Campaign Field Director during the Republican Primaries, to lobby the Trump Administration for access to the E-1 and E-2 visa programs. Indeed, New Zealand has been keen to strike a free trade deal with the U.S for many years. Mr. Jolly’s contract was due to end in March 2017. At the time of writing, it is unknown what progress, if any, was made.

What Action Has Been Taken by Congress to Secure the Right of New Zealand Nationals to Apply for E-1 and E-2 Visas?

On February 26, 2014 a Bill entitled “The Encouraging Trade and Investment from New Zealand Act” was introduced in the Senate. The purpose of the Bill was to extend eligibility for E-1 and E-2 visas to New Zealand nationals.

The Bill was introduced by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) and was sponsored by a number of high-profile Senators, including Senators John McCain (R-Arizona), Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York).

The Bill read:

For purposes of clauses (i) and (ii) of section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(E)), New Zealand shall be considered to be a foreign state described in such section if the Government of New Zealand provides similar nonimmigrant status to nationals of the United States”.

Sadly, no further action appears to have been taken in respect of the Bill since its initial reading in the Senate. The fact the U.S Senate failed to capitalize on their opportunity to extend the E-1 and E-2 visa program to New Zealand nationals suggests reform is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future.

Our View

In our view, the E-1 and E-2 visa categories should be extended to New Zealand as a matter of urgency. New Zealand is an important strategic partner to the U.S and has a close working relationship with the U.S in a variety of industries. The unavailability of the E-1 and E-2 visa categories to New Zealand nationals currently represents a significant barrier to international trade and investment.

An extension of the E-1 and E-2 visa programs to New Zealand nationals, by way of reciprocity, would promote greater investment and job creation in both countries, stimulating economic growth and boosting economic prosperity. We hope Congress will respond sympathetically to the New Zealand Embassy’s campaign and will introduce a new Bill shortly.

Davies Legal

At Davies Legal, we provide advice and representation in relation to E-1 and E-2 visa applications across the spectrum of industries. We offer innovative immigration solutions, a fully flexible service and access to a variety of complimentary services offered by MBA-qualified Business Consultants and a Certified Public Accountant at a competitive fixed fee. Moreover, at Davies Legal, you can be sure your case will only ever be handled by an experienced U.S immigration attorney. Call now for advice on how we can assist you with your E-1 or E-2 visa application and for a free price quotation.

Published: 12th May 2017