E-1 Visa for Treaty Traders
The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf.
A treaty country is one with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, or which the United States maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification. (For dependent family members, see “Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees” below.)
Who May Apply? General Qualifications of a Treaty Trader
In order to qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must meet certain qualifications in order to apply: Specifically, they must be a citizen of the treaty country, engaged in substantial trade, more than 50% of which is between the U.S. and the treaty country, the trade between the U.S. and treaty country satisfy the trade requirement,
Be a citizen of a treaty country
Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation or with which the United States maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation.
Carry on substantial trade
Substantial trade generally refers to an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the United States and the treaty country. The continuous flow contemplates numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction.
While monetary value of transactions is a relevant factor in considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value. For smaller businesses, the income derived from the value of numerous transactions which is sufficient to support the treaty trader and their family is a favorable factor.
More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country
Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the volume of international trade of the treaty trader is between the United States and the treaty country of the treaty trader’s nationality.
Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification
To satisfy the trade requirement, titles of the items must pass from one party to another. Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to: Goods, Services, International banking, Insurance, Transportation, Tourism, Technology and its transfer, and Some news-gathering activities.
As an E-1 Manager you must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm- Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify
Duties which are of an executive or supervisory character are those that primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the treaty enterprise’s overall operation, or a major component of it. Knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet this requirement.
Special qualifications are skills and/or aptitudes which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the treaty enterprise. There are several qualities or circumstances that 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
Period of Stay
Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay that the primary E-1 visa holder is grated. If change of status is applied in the US, the allowed stay would be up to two years.
Requests for extension of stay in, or changes of status to, E-1 classification may be granted at a consulate for up to 5 years (depending on who long the primary E-1 treater visa is given) and if renewed in the US, in increments of up to two years each. There is no limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-1 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
An E-1 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted, if determined admissible by a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officer, an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.
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 or employee. 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 employee.
If the family members are already in the United States and seeking change of status to or extension of stay in an E-1 dependent classification, they may apply by filing a single Form I-539 with fee. Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-1 spouse may work. With very limited exceptions, dependents of E-1 principals may not apply for work authorization in the United States.
As discussed above, the E-1 treaty trader or E-1 management employee may travel abroad and will generally be granted an automatic two-year period of admission when returning to the United States. Unless the family members are accompanying the E-1 treaty trader or employee at the time the latter seeks admission to the United States, the new readmission period will not apply to the family members. To remain lawfully in the United States, family members must carefully note the period of stay they have been granted in E-1 status, and apply for an extension of stay before their own validity expires.
The overall process for the E-1 Visa can be a long and confusing process and often times applicants are unsure if they have enough documentation to satisfy the above-mentioned requirements.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in providing legal services to help E-1 applicants receive their Visas. If you, or someone you know would like more information on the E-1 Visa and how to proceed with this process, do not delay! Call (702) 258-1093 for a consultation today!