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E-1 Visas

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

The Treaty Trader Visa (non-immigrant E-1 classification) is intended for foreign nationals of a country with which a qualifying treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, or a similar agreement exists with the United States. Nationals (individuals or companies) of such countries can obtain visas to work in the USA in order to develop and direct their trade with the USA. Additionally, the E-1 visa requires the principal treaty trader to engage in substantial trade and carry on principal trade between the United States and the qualifying treaty country.

What is Trade?

USCIS defines Trade in section 8 CFR 214.2(e)(11) of the law as follows:

Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Existing trade includes successfully negotiated contracts binding upon the parties which call for the immediate exchange of items of trade. Domestic trade or the development of domestic markets without international exchange does not constitute trade for purposes of section 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act. This exchange must be traceable and identifiable. Title to the trade item must pass from one treaty party to the other.

Trade may include commercial transactions in goods and trade in services and technology like banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, technology transfer and other measurable services which may be traded.

What is Substantial Trade?

Similarly, USCIS defines Substantial trade and Principal Trade as follows:

Substantial Trade is an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the United States and the treaty country. This continuous flow contemplates numerous transactions over time. Treaty trader status may not be established or maintained on the basis of a single transaction, regardless of how protracted or monetarily valuable the transaction. Although the monetary value of the trade item being exchanged is a relevant consideration, greater weight will be given to more numerous exchanges of larger value. There is no minimum requirement with respect to the monetary value or volume of each individual transaction. In the caseof smaller businesses, an income derived from the value of numerous transactions which is sufficient to support the treaty trader and his or her family constitutes a favorable factor in assessing the existence of substantial trade.

What is Principal Trade?

USCIS defines Principal Trade as follows:

Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country.

A person may qualify as the principal trader or as an employee of a trader company having the same nationality. There are no numerical limitations on E-1 admissions. The E-1 visa is for nationals of treaty countries wishing to enter the United States to work for an enterprise engaged in substantial trade principally between the United States and the treaty country, provided the enterprise is majority-owned by treaty nationals (either other companies or individuals). Under the provisions of section 101(a)(15)(E)(i) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act - an alien may be classified as a non-immigrant treaty trader if he or she (i) will be in the United States solely to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or trade in technology, principally between the United States and the foreign state of which he or she is a national; and (ii) intends to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of treaty trader (E-1) status.

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  • The alien must be a citizen of a treaty trader country, and involved in international trade;
  • The applicant must be coming to the United States to carry on substantial trade or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise that has commercial trade with the applicant's country of nationality;
  • The substantial nature of trade is dependent on the volume of the trade, the number of transactions, and a continued course of trade and is not tied directly to the dollar value;
  • The trade must be conducted principally between the United States and the treaty country;
  • The Parent company, or the worldwide organization of the treaty enterprise, does not have to be engaged principally in the U.S. treaty country trade. The U.S. enterprise must conduct more than 50 percent of its total trade volume with the treaty country;
  • The trade involved must be international exchange (successfully negotiated contracts binding on all parties) of items including passing of the title of the trade items between the US and a treaty country;
  • These types of visas are for managerial and supervisory personnel, therefore, unskilled workers and workers with ordinary skills do not usually qualify for such visas. However, other personnel who have special qualifications that make the services to be rendered essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise may also qualify for such visa;
  • The E-1 visa holder can be an independent trader or an agent or employee of a trader or of a trading company;
  • An alien is the immediate family member of a principle E-1 visa holder.
E-1 Visa Countries

The following countries have treaties with the United States that allow qualifying nationals to apply for Treaty Trader status:

Bosnia HerzegovinaGreeceMontenegroSwitzerland
BruneiHondurasThe NetherlandsThailand
China (Taiwan)ItalyPakistanUnited Kingdom
Costa RicaJordanPhilippines
CroatiaSouth KoreaPoland
Filing Procedure
  • If the foreign national is already in lawful status inside of the U.S., then the foreign national must submit an application for a treaty trader visa by applying for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment at a USCIS field office in the U.S.
  • This classification does not require a petition for employment if the foreign national is outside of the US. If outside the US, the foreign national should apply for an E-1 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a US consular office abroad.
Required Documents

The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the E-1 visa petition. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case. The list includes but is not limited to the following items:

Beneficiary's Biographical Documents

  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date at least six months beyond the alien's intended period of stay;
  • Any US visas issued to the applicant with corresponding I-94
  • Two photographs for each member listed in the visa application
  • Form DS -160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application (if applying at a U.S. Consulate abroad);
  • Form DS-156E, Treaty Trader Application (if applying at a U.S. Consulate abroad);
  • Documents establishing the identity of the company's nationality;
  • Letter from the employer detailing aliens position, specialized qualifications and skills that make his services essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise;
  • Evidence of substantial trade for at least one year between the U.S. and alien's home country;
  • Corporate documents for U.S. Entity, copy of business license, copy of lease agreement
  • Financial Statements included balance sheets
  • Proof of assets including equipment
  • Photographs of the business
  • List of Employees
  • Company Tax Returns, Payroll documentation
  • Business Plan/Projection
  • Wire transfer to the US and bank statement showing deposit
  • Company’s current bank statement
  • Company’s Source of money
  • Personal bank statements
  • Resume
  • Property Deed
  • Evidence of substantial trade
Duration of Stay and Extensions

A treaty trader may be admitted for an initial period of no more than 2 years. The spouse and minor children accompanying the principal treaty trader shall be admitted for the period during which the principal is in valid treaty trader status.

Extensions of stay can be granted in increments of two years, with no outer limit on the total period of stay for the alien. A treaty trader in valid E-1 status may apply for an extension of stay by filing an application for extension of stay on Form I-129 and E Supplement, with required accompanying documents.

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