What are the E1 Visa requirements?
To be eligible for an E1 visa as a Treaty Trader:
- The applicant and/or company must hold the nationality of the relevant treaty country
- Persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the company
- The activity must qualify as ‘trade’
- Trade between the treaty national company and the US must be evidenced as ‘substantial’
- Trade is principally between the treaty nation and the US
- The applicant intends to depart the US at the end of the visa
‘Substantial’ trade, in this context, is defined as ongoing sizable international trade involving numerous transactions. There is no set monetary value or number of transactions.
If you are seeking E1 status as an employee of the trading business, there are further eligibility criteria:
- You must be of the same nationality as the Treaty Trader or your principal employer.
- You must meet the relevant legal definition of ‘employee’.
- You must be employed in an executive or supervisory role or have special qualifications.
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 company 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.
E-1 employees will need to bring the following to their Consular interview:
- confirmation page of the DS-160 form
- completed form DS-156E, part 3
- your appointment confirmation page
- your passport or travel document
- a suitable colour photograph (5 x 5 cm)
- if from the UK, evidence of your status
- details of any previously issued US visa
- a letter on company letterhead that describes the company, the job title and role, salary with all allowances and benefits, employee qualifications for the job, company’s contact information
- organizational chart which shows your position in the company and who you report to
- curriculum vitae or resume
- copies of educational certificates, diplomas and transcripts
- copy of the approval letter for the registered Treaty company
- signed and dated statement of intent that you will leave the USA when your E1 status comes to an end
- if already living in the US without a valid E visa, a photocopy of the I-797 Notice of Action stating the change of USCIS granted status
- documents to explain any change in name by deed poll
- a police certificate if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted
- a doctor’s letter if you have any medical condition which could affect your eligibility for a US visa
- where you have been denied into the US, or been deported or removed, documents providing details