DS-156E Guide in the United States

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • DS-156E is a mandatory supplement form for E1 or E2 visas in the United States.
  • Accompanies Form DS-160 for foreigners seeking treaty trader or investor visas.
  • E1 visas are for substantial trade between the US and qualifying countries.
  • E2 visas are for investors with a significant ownership stake in an active US company.

The United States welcomes one of the highest numbers of foreigners into the country. But not all of them hold the same visa. Some hold what is known as an E1 or E1 Treaty Visa. And DS-156E is an important part of those visas. But what actually is the DS-156E, and who should be filing it? In this article, we explain everything you need to know about DS-156E.

What is DS-156E?

The United States has specific trade partnerships or trade treaties with many countries, including France, Brazil, UK, and Belgium, among others. This facilitates commerce and movement.

Companies from other countries can send in their workers for trade purposes into the United States. But instead of the usual visas, those workers are offered E1 and E2 visas.

The visa applications are submitted along with DS-160 and DS-156E. DS-156E is a supplement form that must be used together with DS-160.

Officially, DS-156E is known as Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Investor Application Use With Form DS-160. The purpose of this form is to supplement the information provided in other visa applications. This is mandatory for all foreigners seeking an E1 or E2 visa.

Who Needs DS-156E?

 DS-156E is supposed to be submitted by anyone who is seeking an E-1 or E-2 visa. But who is eligible for these visas? Generally, anyone who is entering the United States with the following intention:

  • They want to engage in substantial trade, which includes, but is not limited to, trade in services or technology between the US and qualifying countries.
  • They want to develop operations of an organization in which they personally have invested a substantial amount of capital.

E-1 Visa

E-1 visas are offered to businesses and their employees who are engaged in substantial trade between the United States and the foreign country that the US has a treaty with. To qualify for an E-1 visa, you must qualify the following:

  • You must be a citizen of the country that has a trade treaty with the United States.
  • The trading company on which behalf you intend to enter the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country. Meaning, foreign individuals must own 50% of the enterprise.
  • The trade volume must be substantial to justify the engagement. This varies from sector to sector.
  • At least 50% of the total trade processed by the company must be between the United States and the treaty country.
  • The trade items must pass from one party to another.
  • The foreigner must be either a top-level employee holding a supervisory or executive position or must be highly skilled, essential for the operation of the firm. Regular or average employees generally do not qualify for an E-1 Visa.

If you qualify for an E-1 visa, you must submit the DS-156E form.

E-2 Visa

E-2 visa, on the other hand, is for investors. These are the people who have made a significant investment in the firm and must hold at least 50% ownership. The business entity must be active in the US and must be employing a sufficient number of Americans.

Besides that, here are some eligibility criteria for E-2 visas:

  • The investment made must be in a real operating company. If it’s a paper organization, then the application will be rejected.
  • It must generate substantial income, more than just provide a living for the investor and the family members.
  • The investor must be in control of the funds and has power on the board.
  • The sole reason for coming to the States is to direct or develop the organization to generate more profit.

How to Complete DS-156E?

DS-156E is a 4-page form, of which the first page contains the instructions for filling it out. It’s important to read the instructions carefully.

The form is divided into three parts, those are:

Business Profile

The questions asked in this section are:

  • Name of the US Enterprise
  • Type of Business Enterprise (whether corporate, privately owned, joint venture or any other type)
  • Headquarters/subsidiaries address in the United States
  •  Date of incorporation in the United States
  • Nature of the business (whether general trade, retail, technology, manufacturing or anything else)
  • Description of the products/services
  • Name of the foreign parent company
  • Nationality of foreign entity or foreign individual owner of the US business
  •  Financial statement
  • Total investment made in the US operation


Here, you need to specify the staff members in the United States. Provide the position they hold, employment date, and nationality. 


This is where you need to provide your information if you’re applying for an E-1 or E-2 visa. Questions asked in the section are:

  • Applicant’s name
  • Type of applicant (whether principal owner, supervisor, executive, specialist or anything else)
  •  Present position and duties
  •  Name and address of the employer
  • Total years present with the current employer
  • Other relevant experience and education
  •  Position in the United States
  • Annual salary and benefit received in the United States
  • Name of the person in the United States you’ll be replacing
  • Affirmation statement

 There are 27 questions in total. For first time applicants, it’s important to complete Part I and Part II of the form and must be updated periodically. For the sections that are not applicable to you, write “Not Applicable.”

DS-156E Cost

 There are no fees involved for this DS-156E. All the costs you need to bear are that of E-1 and DS-160 processing fees.

DS-156E Processing Time

The processing time is the same as that of E-1 or E-2 visa processing time.

Read More


After approval of the application, you can enter the United States and get involved in developing the business. But ensure to attach the DS-156E form along with your DS-160 form. Do not mail it separately. In case of any confusion, get in touch with an immigration attorney to help you out in this matter.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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