E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

What is it? Who qualifies?

E-1 is a nonimmigrant visa for nationals of certain treaty countries who will be in the U.S. to engage in international trade. The following qualifications must be met:

  • The applicant is a national of a qualifying treaty country; 2) at least 50% of the business is owned by nationals of a qualifying treaty country; 3) applicant is a key employee of the business; 4) the business’s trade is substantial and 5) the business conducts principal trade between the U.S. and the treaty country that the applicant is using to qualify for E-1 status.

“Fifty per cent ownership by nationals of a treaty country” for purposes of E-1 qualification means at least 50% of the business is owned by nationals of the same treaty country. If one of the owners is a U.S. lawful permanent resident, then their ownership is not counted toward the 50% foreign ownership qualification, even if they are nationals of the treaty country.

E-1 may be available to certain employees of the company if they are deemed to be “key employees,” which for the purposes of E-1 qualification means that they are either in a supervisory/executive role or have specialized skills that are essential to the functioning of the business. Knowledge of foreign language and culture by itself does not fulfill the requirement of specialized skill.

“Trade” for the purposes of E-1 qualification includes but is not limited to: goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, technology.

“Substantial trade” for the purposes of E-1 qualification is qualitative and several factors are taken into account, including dollar amount and number of transactions. A trade volume of $200,000/year is a safe minimum.

“Principal trade” for the purposes of E-1 qualification means that over 50% of the total volume of trade is between the treaty country and the U.S.

Required Documents

It is necessary to establish that the individual applicant and the business meet the nationality requirements. Evidence of such includes but is not limited to:

  • Passport of applicant
  • Passports of all owners
  • Organizational chart explaining ownership structure and percentages of ownership

Evidence of substantial and principle trade includes but is not limited to:

  • State registration and business license
  • Percentage breakdown of total trade and trade between U.S. and treaty country
  • Bills of lading, sales invoices, inventory data, purchasing orders
  • IRS tax documents

Documents supporting the applicant’s status as a qualified executive/employee includes but is not limited to:

  • Employment contract
  • Letter of support from company verifying executive/managerial role
  • Past employment experience letters and resume
  • Foreign education evaluation

Interesting Fact

USCIS treats E-1 as a dual intent visa, but the Department of State does not. Therefore, if you have a green card petition pending and are applying for E-1 from a consulate or embassy, it is unlikely you will be successful. However, it is possible to successfully apply for E-1 extension in the U.S. with a pending green card petition.

Attorney Role

E-1 applications can be challenging and time consuming to document. In particular, proving substantial trade can be difficult and familiarity with what the immigration authorities expect to receive as part of a strong application is essential for a favorable outcome. Following proper formatting requirements is crucial as in some consulates, failure to do so can lead to the case being immediately rejected.  An experienced attorney can ensure that all the elements necessary to qualify for E-1 are properly presented for the best chances of success.

Contact Us

To discuss E-1 petitions and other types of employment based petitions with an experienced immigration attorney from the American Visa Law Group, feel free click the contact us tab and fill out the inquiry form or call us at 510-500-1155.