E-1 Visas - Treaty Traders

The E-1 nonimmigrant visa classification allows citizens of countries with which the United States has a commercial treaty to enter the United States to engage in trade of a substantial nature principally between the United States and the country of citizenship.

E-1 visa beneficiaries are referred to as “Treaty Traders,” and the trade they engage in must be in existence (successfully negotiated contracts binding on all parties) and involve an international exchange of items of trade (goods, services, and technology) between the United States and a treaty country.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for the E-1 classification, the visa applicant must demonstrate that:

  • He/she is a national of a country with which the United States has the requisite treaty or agreement;
  • The trading firm for which he/she is coming to the United States has the "nationality" of the treaty country (At least 50 per cent of the ownership of the company must have the nationality of the treaty country);
  • The trade is of a substantial nature (i.e. an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the United States and the treaty country);
  • The trade is “principally” between the United States and the treaty country of which the E-1 visa applicant is a citizen (Trade is deemed to be principally between the United States and treaty country when over 50 percent of the volume of international trade conducted by the E-1 visa applicant is between the United States and the treaty country of nationality);
  • He/she will be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possesses special qualifications that are essential to the successful and efficient operation of the enterprise (if the E-1 Treaty Trader is not the principal trader).

“Trade” refers to the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other. The U.S. Department of State maintains a listing of E-1 approved treaty countries.

Qualifying for an E-1 Visa

E-1 Treaty Traders must apply for this visa category on their own behalf directly at a U.S. embassy or consular office abroad or apply for a change of status while in the United States.
To apply for an E-1 visa abroad, an applicant must submit the following documentation:

  • Evidence to establish that the nature of ownership of the enterprise or organization qualifies as a treaty organization or enterprise.  In addition, if employed at a subsidiary of the enterprise or organization, the parent-subsidiary relationship must be established;

  • Evidence to establish that the nature of employment requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills;

  • Evidence to establish the ownership and nationality of the trading firm, including but not limited to lists of investors with current status and nationality, stock certificates, certificate of ownership issued by the commercial section of a foreign embassy, and reports from a certified personal accountant;

  • If filing as an executive or supervisor, or on the basis of special qualifications essential to the enterprise, the E-1 visa petition should also include certificates, diplomas or transcripts, letters from employers describing job titles, duties, operators' manuals, and the required level of education and knowledge;

  • Evidence to establish that the trade is substantial. Such evidence may include, but is not limited to copies of three or more of the following: bills of lading, customs receipts, letter(s) of credit, trade brochures, purchase orders, insurance papers, documentation of commodities imported, carrier inventories, and/or sales contracts.

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay

E-1 visa status can be granted for an initial period of two years.  Thereafter, extensions are available in increments of up to two more years.  With limited exceptions, there is no limit on the number of extensions that an E-1 Treaty Trader may obtain.

If there is a substantive change in the terms or conditions of the employer’s basic characteristics (For example, a merger, acquisition or sale), the Treaty Trader must file a revised petition with USCIS requesting an extension of stay in the United States. As an alternative, he/she may obtain a new visa stamp from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and then apply for admission into the United States at a port of entry.

Family Members of E-1 Visa Holders

An E-1 Treaty Trader’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age are also entitled to E-1 classification as dependents. An E-1 spouse is entitled to work authorization, but children are not. To apply for work authorization as a spouse of an E-1 nonimmigrant, the dependent spouse must file an application for Employment Authorization with USCIS. 

Continue to E-2 Visas for Treaty Investors

For more information on the E-1 visa classification, or to engage Goel & Anderson’s services, please contact us to schedule an in-person or telephonic consultation.