As of Jan. 23, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept requests for changes to E-1 or E-2 status or extensions of E-1 or E-2 status from Iranian nationals and their dependents (see USCIS notice concerning termination of eligibility). This change applies to Iranian nationals who are already in the United States and are seeking an extension of their E-1/E-2 status or were planning to submit a change of status to E-1/E-2. Affected applicants who currently have pending applications will be issued Notices of Intent to Deny by USCIS. This policy change does not affect Iranians who are in the United States currently holding E-1 or E-2 status as they may remain in the United States until their current status expires.
The E-1 visa category applies to nationals of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) who entered the United States to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf, while the E-2 category is reserved for those nationals from a treaty country who are in the United States investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.
USCIS has indicated that this policy change is due to the Oct. 3, 2018, termination of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights with Iran. Because such treaty has been terminated and because the existence of a qualifying treaty or authorizing legislation is a requirement to maintain or obtain E-1 or E-2 status, Iranian nationals no longer have an underlying basis to request an extension or change to E-1 or E-2 status.
Although this recent announcement only applies to Iranians who are already in the United States, we also note that other restrictions on nonimmigrant visa applications by Iranian nationals outside of the United States remain in force, as discussed in our June 2018 blog post on the U.S. Supreme Court upholding President Trump’s travel ban proclamation.