Understanding the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa: A Guide for Eligible Applicants
The E-1 visa category, also known as the Treaty Trader visa, is a nonimmigrant visa that allows individuals who are citizens of a treaty country to enter the United States in order to engage in international trade activities. The purpose of this visa category is to facilitate trade between the United States and treaty countries, thereby promoting economic and cultural ties between nations. These specific nations are enumerated in the Treaty Countries List published by the United States Department of State.
In order to be eligible for the E-1 visa, an individual treaty trader must:
- Be a citizen of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States;
- Be involved in carrying out substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country.
- Be involved in carrying on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.
“Substantial trade” is generally defined as a significant and continuous flow of international trade between the United States and the treaty country. “Principal trade” can be established when more than 50% of the volume of international trade of the individual treaty trader is between the United States and the individual’s treaty country of nationality.
One of the key benefits of the E-1 visa is that it allows for a relatively long period of stay in the United States. E-1 visas are typically issued for a period of up to 2 years. However, the E-1 nonimmigrant visa can be renewed in increments of 2 years so long as the individual continues to meet the visa eligibility requirements. In addition, the E-1 visa allows for multiple entries into the United States during the validity period, which can be useful for individuals who need to travel frequently for trade-related activities.
It is important to note that the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa is a nonimmigrant visa without dual intent. This refers to the requirement placed upon the treaty trader to have the intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
Listed below are a few frequently asked questions about the eligibility and benefits of obtaining an E-1 Treaty Trader visa:
Q: Can I apply for an E-1 visa if I am a citizen of a country that does not have a treaty with the United States?
A: No, you must be a citizen of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States in order to apply for an E-1 visa.
Q: Can my spouse and children come with me on an E-1 visa?
A: Yes, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for derivative E-1 visas to accompany you to live in the United States during the validity period of the visa.
Q: Can my spouse and children obtain work authorization and study as derivatives of an E-1 visa?
A: Yes, the spouse of an E-1 visa holder is allowed to work without having to obtain a work authorization permit during the visa validity period. It is also permitted for both the spouse and children of an E-1 visa holder to attend school during the validity of the E-1 visa.
Q: Can I bring employees with me on an E-1 visa?
A: Yes, individuals who are employed by the company that is the basis for the E-1 visa can apply for derivative E-1 visas to accompany the primary applicant to the United States. The E-1 visa is available for company owners, executive employees, managers, essential employees, and for highly specialized employees.
Q: What are the requirements to qualify for the E-1 visa as an employee?
A: The employee of the treaty trader must: (1) Hold the same nationality of the principal noncitizen employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country); (2) Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law; and (3) Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications that make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the treaty enterprise.
Q: What determines whether the employee’s services are essential to the treaty trader enterprise?
A: There are several qualities or circumstances that could meet this requirement, which are not limited to: (1) degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations; (2) whether others possess the employee’s specific skills; (3) salary that the special qualifications can command; and (4) whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States.
Q: Can I work for a company that is not based in the treaty country?
A: No, in order to be eligible for an E-1 visa, you must be employed by a company that has at least 50% ownership by individuals who are citizens of the treaty country.
Q: Can I apply for an E-1 visa if I am self-employed?
A: Yes, self-employed individuals who are engaged in substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country can apply for an E-1 visa.
Q: Do I need to have a specific type of business in order to be eligible for an E-1 visa?
A: Yes, but the existing substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country is not limited to items of trade listed herein: (1) Goods; (2) Services; (3) International banking; (4) Insurance; (5) Transportation; (6) Tourism; (7) Technology and its transfer; and (8) Some news-gathering activities.
Q: Can I apply for a green card while on an E-1 visa?
A: The E-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that requires the visa holder to depart the United States once their status expires or is terminated. However, the individual E-1 visa holder may apply for the green card through different channels that can avoid implicating their immigrant intent. The E-1 visa alone cannot be used to apply for a green card.
There are several nuances of the E-1 Treaty Trader visa that can become quite complex in determining eligibility and navigating through the application process alone, so it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance from a business immigration attorney.
Reddy & Neumann has been serving the business community for over 20 years and is Houston’s largest immigration law firm focused solely on US. Employment-based immigration. We work with both employers and their employees, helping them navigate the immigration process quickly and cost-effectively.
By: Jeanetly Garcia
Jeanetly Garcia advises employers and individuals through all phases of the non-immigrant visa process. As an attorney in the H-1B Department at Reddy & Neumann P.C. she is experienced in filing nonimmigrant petitions and applications for immigrant benefits, as well as, responding to USCIS issued requests for evidence concerning an array of legal issues.
Jeanetly earned her law degree from South Texas College of Law Houston in May 2020. During her time as a law student, Jeanetly cultivated her passion for immigration through enrolling in related immigration and administrative law legal courses, volunteering in numerous naturalization workshops, and interning for another immigration service provider primarily focused in asylum and special immigrant juvenile cases. Her experience in working with indigent legal clinic clients combined with her personal exposure to the immigration process, allows Jeanetly to value the opportunity to guide clients through different, and often complex, stages of the immigration process.