Complete Guide to the E-1 Visa Requirements

Jun 29, 2020

E-2VisaWorld provides an overview of the entire process to obtain the E1 Treaty Trader Visa for the United States.

The E-1 Visa, also known as a Treaty Trader Visa, allows business owners and/or employees of certain countries to enter, reside, and work in the United States to conduct international trading. Learn everything you need to know about the E-1 Visa requirements here. E-2VisaWolrd can help you prepare for this exciting new phase.


What Is an E-1 Visa?

Like the similar E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, the non-immigrant E-1 Visa is issued to citizens of nations with which the United States maintains a special treaty of commerce or friendship.

If you are a citizen from a qualifying treaty country and plan to either participate in significant trade with the U.S. or work for a business that does, then you and your family may qualify and apply for an E-1 Visa. This allows you to reside, work, and travel in the United States for up to five years with unlimited extensions.

The requirements for getting an E-1 Visa can be rather rigid. With the right legal guidance, you can ensure that your application will adequately reflect your qualifications for E-1 Visa status. At E-2VisaWorld, our experienced E-1 Visa attorneys will interview you to check if you may qualify for E-1 Visa status by meeting the several E-1 Visa requirements.


E-1 Visa Requirements

Both business owners and key employees may obtain an E-1 Visa if they have either of the following qualifications.

  • An enterprise located in the United States that is at least 50% – owned by citizens of a treaty country that engages in international trade for the majority with the owners’ country of citizenship.
  • An enterprise located outside the United States that is at least 50% – owned by citizens from a treaty country that engages in international trade with the United States.

In both cases, the trade from or to the United States must account for at least 50% of the total revenues from the business’ international trade. For a better understanding of this requirement, you should examine a few different examples:

  1. A U.S.-based company owned by an Italian citizen serves as a wine distributor in the U.S. The company regularly buys wine from all over the world, at least 50% of which comes from Italy. In this case, the U.S. business owner (and his Italian employees) qualifies for an E-1 Visa. The owner is Italian (e.g., from a treaty country), and the company’s trade with Italy accounts for 50% or more of its combined international trade.
  2. A U.S.-based company owned by an Italian citizen operates as a wine distributor in the U.S. The company buys wine worldwide, but only 40% of the wine is purchased from Italy. In this instance, although a citizen of a treaty country, the owner would not qualify for an E-1 Visa.
  3. A U.K.-based company, owned by citizens of the U.K., sells t-shirts worldwide and at least 50% to United States distributors. In this case, the business owner qualifies for E-1 Visa status because the U.K. is a treaty country, and at least 50% of the international trade revenues are obtained from United States clients.

Learn more about how E-2VisaWorld can help you obtain an E-1 Visa. You can also take our E-2 Eligibility Survey to determine if E-2 Visa is a better option for your circumstances.


Ownership Requirements for an E-1 Visa

As noted above, the E-1 Visa trading business must be of the same nationality as the treaty nation. In other words, it must be owned at least 50% by nationals of the treaty nation.

Current treaty nations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • The U.K.

A full list of all E-1 treaty countries can be found here.


Trade Requirements for an E-1 Visa

To qualify for E-1 Visa status, you must show that the trade between the United States and the treaty country is “substantial.” It should include various transactions over time, setting forth a continuing course of international trade.

“Trade” should involve a traceable exchange of qualifying products and can include the trade of goods, services, and/or technology between the United States and the treaty nation. There is no set limit on the quantity or value of the trade that should occur, although more emphasis is placed on the number of transactions than the overall financial value.

More than 50% of the company’s international trade is required to occur between the United States and the nation of the candidate’s citizenship. The rest can occur globally with other nations or domestically within the U.S. or the treaty country.

It is worth noting that many of the E-1 Visa requirements are not legally specified. What qualifies as “substantial” or “trade” is not defined by statute. For this reason, it is vital to seek assistance from an experienced E-1 Visa attorney who will guide you through your application process and ensure that you meet all E-1 Visa requirements.


E1 Visa Requirements for Employees

To qualify for E1 Visa status as a treaty trader employee, you must be a citizen from the same country as your E-1 Visa employer coming to the United States to cover an executive or managerial position within the business. In the alternative, you have to qualify as an employee with essential skills or qualifications.

Executive or managerial positions involve a supervisory role and entail control over the company or a substantial portion of it. A skilled or essential employee is required to show abilities vital to the operation of the business. Employees without essential skills or qualifications, and those not covering managerial or executive roles, typically do not qualify for E-1 Visa status.

However, it can often be challenging to establish whether the executive or supervisory nature of their position grants the worker substantive control over the business’s operation. For those working in a lower role, it can be even more difficult to anticipate whether their abilities will be considered vital to the business’s operation.

As noted, your employer must likewise be of the same nationality as that of the treaty nation, whose citizens may qualify for E-1 Visa status. If you are employed by a company, that company must be at least 50% owned by individuals from the same treaty country as you are. To maintain your E-1 Visa status, you are restricted to working only for your E-1 Visa employer.

For help navigating these common E-1 Visa requirements and challenges, it is always recommended that you consult a lawyer specializing in E-1 Visas before filing your application. Please take a look at our immigration services to learn more about how we can help you.


E1 Visa Card FAQ

The E-1 Visa requirements can be complicated to navigate. With the right E-1 Visa attorneys by your side, you can rest assured that everything will be handled. You can then take full advantage of your opportunity to work in the United States through your treaty trader or employee status. Here, our E-1 Visa attorneys answer some commonly asked questions about the E-1 Visa.


Can Family Members Qualify for an E1 Visa?

In most cases, family members can qualify for an E-1 Visa. The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an E-1 Visa holder may be eligible for E-1 Visa status as dependants.

The nationality of these family members does not need to be the same as the E-1 Visa holder. Spouses may be approved to work in the United States by applying for Employment Authorization (Form I-765). At the same time, children may study in the United States with an E-1 Visa without additional requirements.


What is the E-1 Visa Application Process?

Our E-1 Visa attorneys will consult with you over the phone and indicate the documentation required for the E-1 Visa application. Once the documents are ready, our attorneys will put together and file the E-1 Visa application. The records include several hundreds of pages carrying information regarding yourself and your business operations or your future role in the business.

Before filing the application, you will need to complete Form DS-160 online. Once you have submitted this form, paid the non-refundable application fee, and filed the application, you will need to arrange a meeting with the United States Embassy or Consulate in your treaty country of residence when requested.

Among the application documents a cover letter should be included explaining how the trade with the United States is substantial and is happening primarily between the U.S. and the treaty country.

If you are an employee, the cover letter should also explain the nature of the executive or supervisory function that you will fill in the United States or a description of your essential skills and abilities that are necessary to the company’s operations.

Our E-1 Visa attorneys will draft the cover letter and determine any additional documentation that may be required. They will prepare and submit all the necessary paperwork to the U.S. consulate in your country long before the interview. This enables the embassy to have time to review the application and ensures you will not be required to provide extra documentation at the E-1 Visa interview or afterward.

After your interview, the consular officer will notify you of whether the E-1 Visa application has been approved, denied, or additional documentation is needed.


What is the E-1 Visa Processing Time?

The processing time for the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa application may typically range between 4 and 12 weeks from the filing. However, this time might differ depending on the workload of a specific U.S. Consulate.

An improperly filed application can significantly extend this timeframe, so it is always wise to seek assistance from our E-1 Visa attorneys to avoid any mistakes when filing.


Learn More About the E-1 Visa Requirements

At E-2VisaWorld, we narrowly specialize in business visa matters, including applications for the E-1 Visa for treaty traders. As your E-1 Visa lawyers, we will assess if you meet the E-1 Visa requirements, guide you through the complicated application process, assemble the essential paperwork, and prepare you for your E-1 Visa Interview.

We know how critical the success of your E-1 Visa application is to you, and we are here to help. Contact us today for guidance on your E-2 or E-1 Visa application and further information on how the E-1 Visa requirements may apply to your specific situation.

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