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 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.
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For advice on any aspect of a US visa application, contact our US immigration attorneys.
For advice on any aspect of your E-1 visa application, contact our US immigration attorneys.
To be eligible for an E1 visa as a Treaty Trader:
‘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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
You will need to complete the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application form DS-160 and the DS-156E.
Once you have completed your online application process, print off the confirmation sheet to provide at your interview.
Visit the Visa Appointment Service website to create an account, pay the machine-readable visa (MRV) application fee, and arrange the return of your passport once you have attended your visa interview. You will need to retain a copy of your MRV fee receipt.
The documentation you submit will be critical in determining if your application will be granted. Any errors or issues with your supporting documents are likely to result in delays or even refusal of your application. Take legal advice if you have any questions or concerns about the information you should be submitting.
As a guide, supporting documents include:
A cover letter which describes your enterprise and proves your eligibility for the E1 Treaty Trader visa. You should include information such as:
You must provide the following:
You should provide the following:
To prove ownership of the enterprise, you should provide:
You should provide:
Once all of the above have been submitted, your case will be accepted for review and an email confirming receipt will be sent to you or your representative.
Your application will now be reviewed to ensure it is eligible for an E1 visa. The period of review is likely to take up to 30 days.
Once your case has been reviewed, either you or your representative will be informed. At this point, additional documents may be requested and you will be told of appointment availability at your local Embassy or Consulate. You must attend an interview within 90 days of this notification.
A Treaty Trader, or an employee acting on their behalf, come under certain terms and conditions to maintain their E1 status:
As a Treaty Trader, you may only work on the activity approved when the E1 visa was granted.
As an employee, you may also work for the Treaty Trader’s parent company or one of its subsidiaries on the condition that there is an established relationship between the two businesses, the role requires executive, supervisory or essential skills, and the terms and conditions of the employment have not changed in some other way.
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.
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.
No, the E-1 visa does offer a direct path to US permanent residence. To remain in the US beyond your E-1 visa eligibility, take advice on alternative immigration options.