The E-1 visa category allows foreign nationals who are citizens of treaty countries to engage in activities as a treaty trader, or as an employee of a qualifying entity that in turn must be a treaty trader. Treaty traders engage in substantial international trade of goods, services, or technology between the treaty country and themselves.
E-1 Visa Requirements
E-1 Treaty Trader
The treaty trader must meet the following criteria to qualify:
- Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
- Carry on substantial trade
- Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.
Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, technology and its transfer, and some news-gathering activities.
A current list of treaty countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce or navigation may be found at: U.S. Department of State Treaty Countries.
Employee of a Treaty Trader
An employee of a treaty trader must meet the following criteria:
- Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)
- Meet the definition of “employee” under the relevant law
- Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.
If the treaty investor employer is an entity or organization it must be at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country. These owners must be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty investor status. If the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty investors
Period of Stay
Treaty Traders and employees of treaty traders will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Extensions may be granted in increments of two years. No maximum limit in E-1 status exists, however, all E-1 nonimmigrants must maintain an intention to depart to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
Dependent Spouses and Children of E-1 nonimmigrants may qualify for E-1 dependent status. The nationality of the E-1 dependent need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee.
Spouses of E-1 nonimmigrants are work authorized through the filing of the Application for Employment Authorization. If granted, no restrictions apply as to where they may work.