E1 Treaty Trader Visa

E2 Investor Visa USA

The E1 visa is a visa that allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to come to the US solely for the purpose of engaging in international trade between the US and your home country. The biggest advantage of this visa is the absence of the requirement to create jobs in the US, as opposed to E2 Treaty Investor Visa and L1 visa. However, in order to apply for E1 visa the investor has to demonstrate the substantial trade between two countries. Another benefit of applying for E1 visa is the availability of great opportunity for your spouse to apply for a work permit allowing her to pursue career in the US.

General Requirements of E1 Treaty Trader

To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:

I.  First Requirement. Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. The first thing you have to do is to check whether your home country has an international treaty with the US. List of Countries with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation you can find below:

Argentina Australia Austria Belgium Bolivia
Bosnia Brunei Canada Chile Colombia
Costa Rica Croatia Denmark Estonia Ethiopia
Finland France Germany Greece Honduras
Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jordan
Korea South Kosovo Latvia Liberia Luxembourg
Macedonia Mexico Montenegro Netherlands Norway
Oman Pakistan Paraguay Philippines Poland
Serbia Singapore Slovenia Spain Suriname
Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Thailand Togo
Turkey United Kingdom Yugoslavia

  • II.   Second Requirement. Treaty investor must carry on substantial trade between the US and his home country. In order to qualify for E1 visa, applicant must show that he or she is involved in international trade.

    • A.   International trade. Under immigration regulations, trade is defined as an activity that consists of three key elements:

      1. There must be an exchange of goods or services between the US and the foreign country. For example, Treaty Investor owns a computer store in Poland. Treaty Investor found out that there is a wholesale in Chicago, IL that can get him discount prices. So, Treaty Investor places an order for computers worth of $10,000 and exports them to Polish store. Treaty Investor would like to live in the US so that he can negotiate ongoing deals with other US suppliers and grow his Polish business. Investor is currently importing $600.000 worth of computers per year from the US. This would be the type of exchange of services that E1 visa was created for.

      2. The flow of goods and services must be international. In other words, a foreign company can not set up a subsidiary in the US that serves only US clients. If there is no exchange of services or goods between home country and the US, then applicant can not establish that he or she is involved in trade and therefore is not eligible to apply or prolong E1 visa. For example Treaty Investor from Poland decides to open a store in the US to sell computers to US clients. The investor will be in direct violation of E1 non-immigrant status since investor stopped facilitating international trade between the US and Poland unless he shows that he keeps exporting at least 50% of his orders from the US to Poland.

      3. It must involve qualifying type of activity that includes but not limited to: import/export, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, communication.

      4. If your company meets these three key elements of international trade, than you have to demonstrate that your business is engaged in substantial trade in the US.

    • B.   Substantial trade. generally refers to the continuous flow of goods and services between two countries. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction. While monetary value of transactions is an important factor in considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value. Another factor that immigration office considers whether the volume and value of trade will generate more than enough net profit to support the alien who will be living in the US securing the international flow of business.

      Therefore, you need to look at three main factors to determine whether company caries on substantial trade: 1) the quantity of transactions; 2) the monetary value of transactions; and 3) whether foreign company generates enough to support you and your family to the extent that it would make sense for a foreign company to relocate you to the US.

    III.    Third requirement. Majority of foreign company’s trade must be with the US. The foreign company must have 50% of its international trade with the US at all times. Thus, for example, if your company does 60% of its international trade with China and only 40% with the US, then you would not be able to satisfy this requirement.

    General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Trader

    To qualify for E-1 classification, the employee of a treaty trader must:

    • Be the same nationality as a treaty investor. For example If the Polish company wants to send a supervisor to oversea the US manufacturing process for ordered goods to be shipped back to Poland, then the Supervisor would also need to be a Polish national to qualify for the E1 visa.

    • Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

    Duties which are of an executive or supervisory character are those which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it.

    Special Qualifications and skills requirements

    Special qualifications are skills which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the business. There are several qualities or circumstances which could, depending on the facts, meet this requirement. These include, but are not limited to:

    • The degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations.
    • Whether others possess the employee’s specific skills.
    • The salary that the special qualifications can command.
    • Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States.

    Knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet this requirement. Note that in some cases a skill that is essential at one point in time may become commonplace, and therefore no longer qualifying, at a later date.

    Period of Stay

    Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. In other words, as long as you carry on substantial trade between US and home country, you are allowed to stay in the US unlimited period of time.

    Terms and Conditions of E-1 Status

    A treaty trader or employee may only work in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the classification was granted.

    If the treaty trader is currently in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, he or she may change non-immigrant status to E-1 classification.

    If the treaty trader is outside the United States, you can apply for an E-1 nonimmigrant visa through US embassy abroad. Upon issuance of a visa, the person may then apply to a DHS immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry for admission as an E-1 nonimmigrant.

    Families and children visa E1

    Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees

    Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader. These family members may seek E-1 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the investor. Spouses of E1 investors may apply for work authorization and pursue carrer opportunity in the US. There is no specific restriction imposed on spouse as to where she or he may work.


    Does the E1 Visa Lead to a Green Card?

    E1 visa doesn’t grant you an opportunity to apply for a green card. While the E1 visa is a great first step toward your immigration to the US, it’s not a permanent solution. There are many other options available for you in order to obtain a green card in future.

    If you have additional questions about immigration to the United States, please contact us or schedule a consultation.