Treaty traders and investors can leverage the E visa category to foster cross-border commerce and secure their path to success in the United States.  The E-1 treaty trader visa possesses many benefits for those who qualify under the regulations. With the expertise of our E-1 visa attorneys, this guide will cover the entire process and requirements.

Benefits of E1 Treaty Trader Visa

To begin with, E-1 visas are for citizens from specific treaty countries to gain access to the United States solely for international trade on their behalf. The complete list of treaty countries can be seen here. There are dozens on the list.

e1 visa countries usa

Please refer to the chart hyperlinked above for the most up-to-date countries.

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Below are some overarching benefits of the E-1 Visa:

  • Initially, E1 visas can be granted for a maximum period of two years, allowing the holder to travel freely in and out of the United States.
  • The E1 visa can be renewed unlimited times in two-year increments. This allows Treaty Traders to stay in the United States for an extended duration, ensuring the ongoing success of their business.
  • When an E1 visa holder travels abroad, they are generally granted an automatic two-year period of readmission upon their return to the United States.
  • E1 visa holders receive legal authorization to work for a trading firm in the United States.
  • Unlike the L1 visa, there is no requirement for qualified employees to have previously worked for the trader for at least one year.
  • E1 visas also cover the applicant’s accompanying spouse and unmarried children (under 21). The spouse can apply for work authorization anywhere in the United States without restrictions. However, the children are not permitted to accept employment.

benefit treaty trader visa

E-1 Work Visa Requirements

We highly recommend you hire a qualified E1 visa lawyer to file your case with USCIS. This ensures all relevant documents and evidence will be submitted with your case.

To qualify for an E-1 classification as a treaty trader, the individual must meet the following criteria:

  1. Hold nationality in a treaty country with a current commerce and navigation agreement with the United States.
  2. Engage in substantial international trade between the treaty country and the United States.
  3. Conduct principal trade, which means most of the trade volume must be between the United States and the treaty country that qualified the trader for E-1 classification.

As per the given definition, trade refers to exchanging various trade items between the United States and the relevant treaty country. These trade items encompass a wide range of goods and services, including but not limited to:

  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and its transfer
  • Specific news-gathering activities

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How do I know if my trade is substantial?

What does the term “substantial trade” actually mean? Well, it does not have a fixed monetary threshold. Instead, it focuses on continuous flows of significant international trade items involving numerous transactions over time. The weight of consideration lies not only on the monetary value but also on the frequency and quantity of transactions.

What does “principal trade” mean? It signifies that the trade volume between the treaty country and the United States must exceed 50% of the total exchange volume conducted by the business.

If you’re wondering if an E-2 visa would be more beneficial? The significant difference is in the focus on actual capital investment and the role of the visa holder with the E-2. So that means the E-2 visa allows nationals of treaty countries to be admitted to the U.S. when investing a substantial amount of capital in the business. Learn about E-2 visa processing times. Premium processing can be selected to expedite your E-2 visa for an additional cost of $2,500.

Check out this E-1 vs. E-2 visa article. 

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Requirements for E-1 or E-2 Classification as an Employee of a Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor

To qualify as an employee for an E-1 visa, you must:

  1. Share the same nationality as the primary employer, a foreign national from the treaty country.
  2. Fulfill the legal definition of an “employee” as per the laws.
  3. Either hold an executive or supervisory role or possess special qualifications if employed in a lower capacity.

What Can You Do with an E1 Visa?

With an E-1 visa, you can engage in specific activities related to substantial trade between the United States and your home country. Here are some of the critical things you can do with an E-1 visa:

  1. Conduct Trade: The primary purpose of the E-1 visa is to facilitate trade activities. As an E-1 visa holder, you can participate in international trade between the U.S. and your home country. This can involve the exchange of goods, services, international banking, transportation, technology transfer, and other trade-related activities.
  2. Work for the Treaty Trader: The E-1 visa allows you to work for the enterprise that serves as the treaty trader. This can include managerial, executive, supervisory, or essential skills roles within the qualifying enterprise. The work must be directly related to the trade activities between the U.S. and your home country.
  3. Engage in International Trade: As an E-1 visa holder, you can engage in various activities directly related to international trade. This can include negotiating contracts, attending trade shows and exhibitions, purchasing goods or services, consulting with business associates, conducting market research, and promoting trade relations between the U.S. and your home country.
  4. Stay in the U.S. Temporarily: The E-1 visa allows you to stay in the U.S. for an initial period of up to two years. However, it can be extended indefinitely in increments of up to two years as long as the trade activities continue to meet the requirements of the E-1 visa.

Steps to File Your Petition

  • Complete Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
  • Pay applicable filing fees
  • Include all necessary evidence and supporting documentation
  • After USCIS receives your I-129 and they process your application, you will receive a receipt notice confirming they’ve received it and a biometric service notice (if applicable), notice to appear for an interview (if required), and notice of their ultimate decision.

In Our Experience

From our experience, we have found that preparing a robust business plan and including that in your application package is very beneficial.

One recent example of a client success story in the E visa classification was for an Argentinian Entrepreneur who needed to secure an E-2 visa for a trucking company in the U.S. We were able to prove, with abundant evidence, that our client’s 20+ years of experience in managerial, technical experience, and leadership met the criteria in addition to the large number of personal funds he invested in a U.S. business.

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Importance of Employee Visa Legal Representation

Our E-1 work visa attorneys are highly skilled at creating a solid case for the E-1 visa. It’s critical to choose an E1 visa attorney who knows how to any RFEs or challenges that may arise along the way. With a thorough understanding of the USCIS requirements and their expectations, our attorneys proactively work to address any potential issues, ensuring that your application is solid and compelling from the start. Should an RFE be issued, our attorneys will guide you through the process, assisting you in preparing a thorough and persuasive response. We will carefully analyze the USCIS’s concerns, gather additional evidence, and provide clear and concise explanations to address any doubts or uncertainties. Our goal is to maximize your chances of success and overcome any obstacles that may arise during the application process.

E-1 Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for E-1/E-2 outside of the United States?

No. E-2 CNMI-Only Investors is a different classification suitable for this.

Do E-3 visas need to include anything with Form I-129? 

Yes, they need to include a Labor Condition Application (LCA), academic or other credentials demonstrating qualifications for the position, and a job offer or other documentation establishing that the occupation is a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage.

Can spouses and unmarried children of E-1 treaty traders and employers accompany them?

Yes, the E1 visas also cover the applicant’s accompanying spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age). Moreover, the spouse can work in the United States without restrictions and without having to apply for a work permit. Children can attend school but cannot work while on E1 visa status.

Suppose the family members are currently in the United States and wish to change their status or extend their stay as dependents under the E-1 classification. In that case, they can submit a single Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status, along with the required fee.

Is there a limit on how much trade has to happen for the visa to take effect?

No, there is no concrete limit, but USCIS does emphasize the number of transactions you make.

Can E-1 lead to a green card?

While there is no direct path to permanent residency, an E-1 visa could lead to a green card if you are eligible through other avenues, such as employment-based or family-based immigration categories.

How long does it take to get an E1 visa?

The actual processing time to get an E-1 visa will depend on whether you are applying from inside or outside the United States and which service center handles it.

Who can apply for an E1 visa?

Foreign nationals of treaty countries with a valid agreement with the United States can apply for an E1 visa.

Can I travel outside of the country with an E1 visa?

Yes, you can travel outside of the U.S. and reenter.

How can I check the status of my visa? 

Presently, you can use USCIS’s online status check tool. Enter your receipt number, and it will pull up-to-date information on your application. The receipt number is a unique 13-character identifier that the USCIS provides for each application it receives.

We make employment immigration to the U.S. easy.

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