Home    |    Links    |    FAQs

E-1 Treaty Trader/Employee


The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a county with which United States maintains a treaty of Commerce and Navigation to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. These treaties are designed to promote trade and investment between the USA and the other contracting state, thereby encouraging good relations and peace.

For a list of current countries with which United States maintains a treaty of Commerce and Navigation, please use the link below:

http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/treaty.html


There are two ways to file for E-1 classification:
  1. If Applicant is already in the United States on a different lawful nonimmigrant status:

    1. Applicant himself may file for request of change of status to E-1 Treaty Trader classification by filing Form I-129 and all supporting documents.
    2. Or the qualifying employer can file, on behalf of the Applicant, requesting change of status to E-1 Employee classification by filing form I-129 and all supporting documents.

      *If applicant is out of legal status and still living in the United States, he/she must immediately depart the United States and apply for an E-1 visa abroad.
  2. If Applicant is outside the United States.

    Then the proper venue to file an application is with the appropriate Embassy or Consulate abroad.

E-1 Treaty Trader

To qualify as an E-1 treaty trader, the applicant must prove:
  1. That he/she is a national of a country with which United States has a treaty.
  2. That applicant’s Country and United States engage in Substantial Trade. Substantial Trade generally refers to the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction. While monetary value of transactions is an important factor in considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value.
  3. That the trade between the Applicant’s home county and United States is Principal Trade. 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.

    Since E-1 treaty visa applications center on the volume of trade between United States and the Treaty Country, the prospective applicant must demonstrate that:
  • The individual and/or business possess the nationality of the treaty country;
  • Business activities constitute trade;
  • Trade is substantial and international in nature;
  • Trade is principally between United States and the treaty country; and
  • The individual intends to depart the United States when the E-1 status terminates.

    The purpose of E-1 Treaty Trader visa is to enable nationals of qualifying countries to develop and direct import/export of goods or services between their own country and the United States.

E-1 Employee

Key managerial and specialist employees can also apply for E-1 employee visa. The E-1 employee visa, unlike the L-1 visa, does not require employees to have worked for the trader for at least one year in the preceding three years. To obtain E-1 employee status, the following are eligibility requirements:
  • The employee must be a national of the treaty country;
  • The employee’s employer must either be in valid E-1 status, or if outside of the U.S., the employer is classifiable under E-1 status;
  • The employee is coming to the United States to fill an executive or supervisory position, or has special qualifications essential to the firm’s operations in the United States; and
  • The beneficiary intends to depart the United States when the E-1 status terminates.

Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees

Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee. These family members may seek E-1 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.

Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-1 spouse may work.

E-1 Treaty Trader/Employee FAQs

What is a “Treaty Country” for E-1 visa purpose?

A treaty country is a foreign state with which the United States has a qualifying Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent.

What is a Treaty Country Nationality?

The authorities of the foreign state of which the alien is a national determine the nationality of an individual treaty trader. In the case of an enterprise or organization, ownership must be traced as best as is practicable to the individuals who are ultimately its owners.

What are the requirements for the E-1 Treaty Trader Category?

E-1 treaty trader status is designed for qualifying individuals who are citizens or nationals of countries with a qualifying commerce and navigation treaty with the U.S., and who will only engage in substantial trade in goods, services and technology principally between the U.S. and that foreign country.

How does USCIS define “trade” for the purpose of E-1 visa?

Immigration regulations define trade as the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country.

How much trade is considered “substantial trade” for the purpose of E-1 visa?

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. Essentially, trade is considered substantial when there are numerous transactions over a period of time and the income derived is sufficient enough to support the treaty trader.

Note: A one-time transaction, no matter how great the value, does not constitute substantial trade between that country and United States.

What items are considered “items of trade” for the E-1 status?

Items of trade include but are not limited to goods, services, international banking, insurance, monies, transportation, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, tourism, technology and its transfer, and some news gathering activities.

What does “principal trade” mean?

Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50 percent of the volume of international trade of the treaty trader is conducted between the United States and the treaty country of the treaty trader's nationality.

What are “Special Qualifications” for the E-1 status?

Special qualifications are those skills and/or aptitudes that an employee in a lesser capacity brings to a position or role that are “essential” to the successful or efficient operation of the treaty enterprise.

Is a labor certification necessary for the E-1 status?

Labor certification is not necessary nor a requirement for the E-1 classification.

Can a U.S. employer file for E-1 status for an employee?

No. A United States employer cannot petition for E-1 status for an employee since this visa classification is specifically set aside for foreign nationals, including foreign employers, with a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, Navigation or some similar type of agreement between the United States and a foreign nation.

Can an employer get E-1 status for an employee?

An employer can get E-1 status for an employee only if the employee meets all of the requirements to get E-1 status.

Can the E-1 employee file the Form I-129 for him/herself?

No. The E-1 employer or the employer abroad must always file the Form I-129 on behalf of an E-1 employee.

What are the requirements to become an E-1 Treaty Trader?

To obtain an E-1 Treaty Trader status, the following are eligibility requirements:

  1. A treaty, with treaty trader provisions, exists between United States and the foreign state;
  2. The individual and/or business possess the nationality of the treaty country;
  3. Business activities constitute trade between USA and the treaty country;
  4. Such trade is substantial and international in nature;
  5. Trade is principally between United States and the treaty country; and
  6. The individual intends to depart the United States when the E-1 status terminates.

What requirements must the employee meet to become an E-1 employee?

To obtain E-1 employee status, the following are eligibility requirements:

  • The employee must be a national of the treaty country;
  • The employee’s employer must either be in valid E-1 status, or if outside of the U.S., the employer is classifiable under E-1 status;
  • The employee is coming to the United States to fill an executive or supervisory position, or has special qualifications essential to the firm’s operations in the United States; and
  • The beneficiary intends to depart the United States when the E-1 status terminates.

What initial evidence or documents must be filed with the E-1 Nonimmigrant Visa Application at the U.S. Consulate?

The individual should be directed to the U.S. consulate nearest to the individual’s place of residence or to the Department of State’s website at www.state.gov.

Can the E-1 employee change employers and remain in E status?

An E-1 employee cannot change employers and remain in E-1 status. However, another employer may sponsor the employee for E-1 status. USCIS must approve any substantive changes in the terms or conditions of E status prior to the change of employment.

What is the initial period of stay granted to an E-1 nonimmigrant?

An E-1 nonimmigrant is usually granted an initial period of admission of two years.

What is the maximum period of stay granted to an E-1 nonimmigrant?

E-1 Treaty Traders do not have a maximum period of stay restriction. However, E-1 Treaty Trader employees involved in start-up activities only receive two years since it is presumed they will conclude their activities in a two-year period.

 


The information contained on this site is offered only for general informational and educational propose and does not constitute a legal advice or opinion. All efforts are being made to keep this information current, but it may not be guaranteed that it applies to your specific case, and should not be relied upon or acted without seeking the advice of qualified attorney.