E-1 Visa

To enter the US to carry out ‘substantial trade’, you will first need to apply for an E-1 visa.

The E-1 treaty trader visa allows nationals of a treaty nation to enter the US to carry out ‘substantial trade’.

Before any individual application can be made for an E-1 visa, the company must first apply to be registered as an E-1 treaty trader business.

An application evidencing the foreign company’s eligibility must be filed at a US consular post abroad along with an initial E-1 employee visa application.

Filing requirements vary from post to post, and processing times can fluctuate based on consular workload. It is best to confirm estimated processing times at the appropriate consular post at the time the E-1 company registration and visa applications are filed.

NNU Immigration are here to help!

NNU Immigration are specialists across all classes of US visa, including the E-1 visa.

The application rules for the E-1 visa program are complex. The E-1 visa is particularly demanding in its eligibility criteria and requirements for supporting documentation.

With exceptional knowledge and insight into the visa application processes, we advise non-US entrepreneurs and investors, their dependents and their employees on available US visa and immigration options, including the E-1 visa, providing full support submitting applications to the relevant US authorities.

US immigration policy is undergoing a period of considerable upheaval; we can advise on the prevailing impact of any changes in US visa rules that may impact the entry routes available to you.

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E-1 Visa FAQs

How does a foreign company apply for E-1 company registration?

A foreign company may register as an E-1 Treaty Trader at a US consular post to facilitate the transfer of the business owner to the United States and as well as sponsorship of foreign employees to work in the US for the business.

A company is eligible for E-1 company registration if it is engaged in trade with the United States and its owners are nationals of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US (a “treaty country”). Below are some key requirements a company must fulfil to apply for an E-1 company registration.

Requirement 1 – The foreign company must be owned by nationals of a treaty county.

The foreign company must be owned and controlled at least 50% by individuals holding passports from a treaty country (e.g., United Kingdom).  Ownership interests must be traced to the individual level.

Requirement 2 – The foreign company must be engaged in trade with the US.

Qualifying trade is defined as the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the US and the treaty country of the foreign company. Items of trade include: goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, technology, and newsgathering activities.

Requirement 3 – The foreign company’s trade with the US must be substantial.

Substantial trade refers to the continuous flow of sizable international trade items or services, between the US and the treaty country of the foreign company, involving numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value of trade or volume of each transaction, however greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of larger value.

Requirement 4 – The foreign company’s international trade must be principally between the US and the treaty country of the foreign company.

Over 50% of the total volume of international trade (i.e., excluding domestic UK trade) of the foreign company must be between the US and the treaty country.  The Embassy/Consulate will look at the one full year preceding filing the application to determine whether the foreign company satisfies this requirement.

What supporting evidence is required in the E-1 visa application?

In order for a foreign company to be granted E-1 registration as a treaty trader, it will be necessary to provide information and documentation evidencing that each of the aforementioned requirements has been met.

Such information and documentation generally includes the following, but depends on the consulate/embassy where the application is filed:

  • A description of the qualifying goods or services;
  • Spreadsheets listing qualifying transactions, copies of invoices, copies of air bills, and copies of shipping invoices to establish substantial trade with the US; and
  • A calculation of the percentage of documented international trade between the US and the treaty country.

How does an employee apply for an E-1 visa?

For the validity of the E-1 company registration, foreign nationals whom the foreign company wants to employ to support trading activities in the US may apply for E-1 status at the consular post where the E-1 registration application was filed without having to submit documents substantiating the foreign company’s US trading activities.

Such individuals must:

  • Have the same nationality as the principal owner(s) of the foreign company;
  • Be performing an executive, supervisory, or essential role in the USA, as defined by US Immigration law;
  • Intend to return to their residence abroad following completion of their work in the US; and
  • If they are UK citizens, present evidence of their residence in the UK.

The validity period of the E-1 company registration will be determined by the consular officer at the initial applicant’s visa interview, and the maximum allowable time granted depends on the foreign company’s owners’ country of citizenship.  For UK citizens, E-1 company registrations may be valid for up to five years following the initial employee’s visa application, and can be renewed indefinitely.

Can dependents apply under the E-1 visa?

The spouse and children of an employee granted an E-1 visa may apply for E-1 visas which will allow them to reside with the employee in the US.

Dependent visa applications may be made at the time of the E-1 employee’s interview, or by scheduling a separate interview at a US consular post following approval of the E-1 employee’s visa application.

Once in the US in E-1 status, an E-1 employee’s spouse may apply for employment authorization which will allow him/her to legally work in the US for any employer.

Can the E-1 visa be renewed?

E-1 company registrations and Employee visas are renewable indefinitely, provided the foreign company continues to meet E-1 requirements, and the employee remains an employee of the foreign company.

There is no limit on the number of times E-1 company registrations or E-1 visas may be renewed, however E-1 visa applicants must always maintain an intent to return to their home country following completion of their work in the US.

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