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

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

How to apply for an E-1 visa

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.

Which supporting documents will you need for the E-1 application?

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:

Section A: Cover letter
A cover letter which describes your enterprise and proves your eligibility for the E1 Treaty Trader visa. You should include information such as:

  • who will benefit from the enterprise
  • details of your Treaty country nationality
  • the trade activities you will take part in
  • that the trade is substantial
  • that the trade will mainly be between the USA and the related Treaty country
  • if an employee, that the role will be executive, supervisory or require special skills essential to the enterprise’s operation
  • your intention to leave the USA when your E1 status comes to an end

Section B: Forms
You must provide the following:

  • the confirmation sheet from your DS-160 application form
  • parts 1, 2 and 3 of the DS-156E form
  • copy of the MRV fee payment receipt
  • if an employee, a letter on company letterhead that details the company, the job title and role, salary with all allowances and benefits, employee qualifications for the job, company’s contact information
  • if using a legal representative, a letter of agreement between the Treaty Trader and the representative

Section C: Applicant Information
You should provide the following:

  • colour photocopy of the biometric data page of your passport (the page that shows your photo)
  • colour photocopies of any US visas, US entry/exit stamps and I-94s
  • copy of any changes of extension of USCIS granted status
  • if from the UK, evidence of your ongoing residence in the UK
  • your resume or curriculum vitae
  • copies of your educational certificates, diplomas and transcripts
  • your signed statement of intent to leave the USA when your E1 status comes to an end

Section D: Ownership
To prove ownership of the enterprise, you should provide:

  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations), Articles of Organisation (for LLCs) or equivalent documents for a US business
  • Operating Agreement, share certificates, share ledgers or other documents that may prove ownership
  • colour photocopies of the biometric pages of the passports of the ultimate parent company owners
  • where the US business is a subsidiary or affiliate of a foreign corporation, incorporation and ownership documents should be provided
  • where the foreign company is based in the UK, a copy of their most recent Companies House AR01 report should be provided
  • where the company is large with several owners or subsidiaries, or where the chain of ownership includes intermediaries, provide a full ownership structure organogram and legal proof of ownership within that chain
  • where the investor is a public company with many shareholders (none owning more than 50%), provide an affidavit signed by the relevant corporate official confirming that the company is traded exclusively on the relevant stock exchange and a copy of the latest stock trading information

Section E: Trade
You should provide:

  • spreadsheet of every qualifying transaction of international trade between the Treaty country and the USA during the previous year, including data, invoice number, dollar value, total number and value of transactions and summary
  • copies of all invoices mentioned in the spreadsheet
  • copies of all shipping invoices or air bills as proof that the good or services moved between the two countries
  • for a US entity, the latest US federal tax returns or where the entity has a different nationality, the equivalent document, signed by the appropriate government official

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.

What are the conditions of the E-1 visa?

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.

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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