The State Department recently announced that it had affirmed the termination of a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between Ecuador and the United States, set to take effect a year after the Ecuadorian government issued a notice of its termination. The termination of the BIT, however, also affects the availability of E-2 treaty investor visas for Ecuadorian immigrant workers.
The E-2 investor visa allows certain individuals from countries the United States has a commerce and navigation treaty (such as the BIT) with to enter the country. In particular, only foreign nationals who have invested a “substantial amount of capital” in a U.S. business enterprise may avail of the visa as they are expected to develop and direct the operations of that enterprise throughout their stay in the country.
What happens after the termination of a BIT is unique to every treaty because each agreement follows an embedded set of post-termination guidelines. In the case of the U.S.-Ecuador BIT, Ecuadorian nationals with E-2 visas acquired on or before May 18, 2018 will remain entitled to their E-2 classification until May 18, 2028.