Complete Guide to Requirements for the E1 Visa


An E1 Visa, known as a Treaty Trader Visa, allows certain people or employees of a certain business to enter the United States for the purposes of international trading. Learn everything you need to know about the requirements for this visa here.

What is E1 Visa?

US immigration policy is designed to support foreign investors and international commerce in a number of ways. One notable way is the E1 Visa. One of three visas under the E category, not to be confused with the similar E-2 treaty investor visa, the non-immigrant E-1 Visa is issued to a citizen of a nation with which the US keeps a treaty of trade and commerce, also known as a “treaty trader”.

If you are a professional from a qualifying treaty country and you plan to either participate in significant trade with the US or work for a business that does, then you and your family may be able to reside, work, and travel in the United States for five years with unlimited extensions in two-year increments by qualifying and applying for an E-1 Visa.

The requirements for getting an E-1 Visa can be rather rigid, but with the right legal guidance, you can ensure that your application will adequately reflect your qualifications for entry. Here, the business visa experts at E-2VisaWorld outline everything you need to know about the E-1 Visa requirements so you can stay informed and on track.

E1 Visa Requirements for Businesses

Both qualifying business owners and employees may obtain an E1 Visa, but the qualification requirements for this visa differ by status. A business, or treaty trader, may qualify for E-1 business registration if it participates in trade with the United States and its owners are nationals of a treaty nation. 

Before you can apply for an E-1 Visa, your business must register as an E-1 business by submitting a petition at a United States consular post outside the US. 

The candidate’s 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 the UK, Germany, France, Israel, Japan, Mexico, and Australia. A full list of all E-1 treaty countries can be found here.

Additionally, all treaty trader visa applicants must be coming to the United States to take part in “substantial” trade. “Trade” should involve a traceable exchange of qualifying products and can, for instance, include the trade of goods, services, and/or technology between the United States and the treaty nation. To be considered “substantial”, trade should include various transactions over time, setting forth a continuing course of international trade. There is no set limit on the quantity of trade that should occur, although there is more emphasis placed on the number of transactions instead of the overall financial value. 

Further, more than 50% of the company’s international trade needs to be between the United States and the nation of the candidate’s citizenship. The rest of the trade can be either global trade with other nations or domestic trade. 

One thing to note is that many of the E-1 Visa requirements are not legally specified. What qualifies as “substantial” or “trade” is not specified by statute. For this reason, it is vital to seek assistance from a visa attorney who can help you determine the correct wording for your application and ensure that you meet all E -1 Visa requirements.

E1 Visa Requirements for Employees

To qualify for E 1 Visa status as a treaty trader employee, you must be coming to the United States to take part in tasks as an executive, managerial, or essential skilled staff member of the company.

This means that you need to be employed in a supervisory role or, if employed in a lower role, you need to have abilities vital to the operation and success of the business. Employees with ordinary skills or those participating in unskilled labor typically do not qualify under this requirement. 

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 with any degree of certainty whether your abilities will be considered as vital to the operation of the business. To help navigate these common challenges, it is always recommended that you consult a lawyer specializing in E-1 Visas prior to filing your application. Take a look at our immigration services to learn more about how we can help you.

Your employer must likewise be of the same nationality as that of the treaty nation, who maintains the status of treaty trader if in the United States or, if not in the United States, would be classifiable as a treaty trader, or an organization that is at least 50% owned by individuals with the nationality of the treaty nation. To maintain your E-1 Visa status, you are restricted to working only for the employer that acted as your E-1 Visa sponsor.

E1 Visa Card FAQ

The E-1 Visa requirements can be complicated to navigate, but with the right visa consultant by your side, you can rest assured that everything is taken care of so you can take full advantage of your opportunity to work in the United States through your treaty trader or employee status. Here, our attorneys answer some commonly asked questions about the E-1 Visa.

Can Family Members Qualify for an E1 Visa?

In most cases, yes. Both the spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an E-1 Visa holder may qualify for E-1 Visa status. The nationality of these family members does not need to be the same. Spouses may be approved to work in the United States by applying for Employment Authorization, while children may study in the United States with an E-1 Visa without any further requirements.

What is the E1 Visa Application Process?

To apply for an E1 Visa, you will need to complete Form DS-160. This is an online application requesting, among other things, the basic information of the reason for your visit. Once you have submitted this form and paid the non-refundable application fee, you will need to arrange a meeting with the United States Embassy or Consulate in your treaty country of residence.

At the interview, you will be required to provide documentation to support your E-1 Visa application, including your passport, a copy of the Form DS-160 confirmation page, along with Form DS-156E.

You may also be asked for extra paperwork to help determine whether you meet the E-1 Visa requirements. In particular, you will likely need to provide a cover letter explaining the nature of the company and your position within it. 

This cover letter should detail how trade with the United States is both substantial and happening primarily between the United States and the treaty country. If you are an employee, the cover letter should explain the nature of the executive or supervisory function that you will fill in the United States or a description of your abilities that are necessary to the company’s operations. Your attorney can help you draft this cover letter and determine any additional documentation that may be required. Read more about E-2VisaWorld to find out how else we can assist you.

At the conclusion of your interview, the interviewer will notify you of whether the E-1 visa application has been approved, denied, or if additional documentation will be needed.

What is the E1 Visa Processing Time?

The processing time for the E1 treaty trader visa can range between 2 and 4 weeks from the filing of the application. However, this might differ depending on the workload of the particular consulate. An improperly filed application can greatly extend this timeframe, so it is always wise to seek assistance from an attorney to avoid any mistakes when filing.

Learn More About the E1 Visa USA Requirements

Your E-1 Visa application will need substantial supporting paperwork to prove that you meet the United States E-1 Visa requirements. Problems with your petition can lead to your application being postponed or possibly rejected in the present climate of strict visa adjudication.

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 can direct you through the E-1 Visa requirements, help you file your application, assemble the essential documents, and get ready for your interview. 

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