An E-1 is a national of a country with which the U.S. has a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation who is coming to the U.S. to engage in substantial trade between the U.S. and the aliens country of nationality. Trading activities with the U.S. must comprise more than 50% of the companys total volume of business transactions in the U.S. and there must be a continued course of international trade.
An E-2 is a national of a country with which the U.S. has a bilateral investment treaty or agreement, who is coming to the U.S. to direct and develop the operations of an enterprise in which s/he has invested or is in the process of investing substantially. Substantial investment is one in which personal funds or assets are put at risk in a real operating enterprise which generates services or goods. You must show that you are able to direct and develop the enterprise by having control over the business. You must also show that the investment is not your main source of income or that the proceeds from the investment are significantly greater than a subsistence income.
An E-1or E-2 may also be the employee of such a qualified alien or company. The employee must be an executive or manager, an individual with specialized qualifications that are essential to the efficient operation of the business, a highly trained technician, or start-up personnel (E-2 only).