Why isn’t there an E-1 Trader or E-2 Investor Treaty between the US and India? 

This question came to mind again while I was working on an E-2 Treaty Investor case for a Canadian citizen who was born in India.  It occurred to me how peculiar it was that except for being a Canadian citizen, the client would not have been eligible to apply for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa.  

Admittedly, I haven’t researched the issue of why we don’t have an E Treaty with India.  There are no doubt complex political and other reasons at play, but I do know that visa options are often based on reciprocity between countries.  And, with regard to reciprocity, the US and China very recently announced that the duration of certain short-term visas will be extended…so significant change certainly is possible.  (See http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/10/us-china-usa-visas-idUSKCN0IU0Q020141110.)

Now may be the time for an E Treaty with India given that long gone are the days of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s restrictive foreign exchange policies.  India’s 1973 Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) was repealed in 1998 and replaced by a policy which liberalized foreign exchange controls and restrictions on foreign investment in India.  Based on my nearly annual travels to India since 1988, I can confirm that there is now a strong presence of American companies/products in India.  Perhaps the time has come to explore the E Treaty issue further.  It could be a win/win for both countries.

And, of course, it’s not only Indian nationals who can bring benefits to the US by their investments and trade when they are able to live and work in the US.  Citizens of more than 80 countries are eligible for the E visa.  Some treaties date back the 1840s others are as recent as 2012.  (See http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/treaty.html.)


Ms. Wadhwani is a partner in the Immigration Group of Fox Rothschild LLP.  She can be reached at cwadhwani@foxrothschild.com.