E-1 Treaty-Trader Visa
The E-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant classification that enables nationals of countries that the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with to gain legal entry into the United States. E-1 Visa holders are permitted to enter the United States for the sole purpose dof engaging in international trade for their own purposes. Some employees of such individuals or of qualifying organizations may be eligible for classification, as well. The E-1 visa can also be extended to the immediate family members of the holder of this visa, including the legal spouse of the E-1 visa holder, as well as children who are unmarried and under the age of 21.
The term “trade” is loosely defined. It can refer to the trade of goods, services, finances, insurance, tourism, transportation, advertising, and various other forms of services that can be measurably traded. Furthermore, there is no established limit on the amount of trade that can occur; but, there is more focus on the total amount of transactions, not the total value of transactions.
Treaty Trader Qualifications
Treaty traders that meet the following qualifications may be eligible for the E-1 Visa:
- Nationals of countries that the United States maintains a treaty of commerce or navigation with.
- Intends on engaging in substantial amounts of trade. Trade is considered substantial if it is a continuous flow of a large sum of international trade items that involve multiple transactions over a period of time.
- Intends on carrying principal trade between the United States and the country that qualified the individual an E-1 classification. Principal trade refers to trade between the treaty country and the United States that is more than 50 percent of the total amount of international trade between the two countries.
E-1 Visa Requirements for Employees of Treaty Traders
Employees of treaty traders can also qualify for an E-1 Visa. To qualify for a visa of this classification, employees must meet the following qualifications:
- The must be from the same country of the employer
- Meet the qualifications that would consider them an employee of the treaty trader according to relevant laws
- Engaged in duties that are related to an executive or a supervisory character, or possess special qualifications. Executive or supervisory character duties are those duties that provide the employee with control and operation of the organization, or at least a large component of the organization. Special qualifications refer to skills that the employee possesses that makes him or her an integral component in the successful operations of the organization.
In circumstances where the employer is not an individual, the employer of the employee who is seeking an E-1 Visa must be either an enterprise or an organization that is at least half owned by individuals in the United States, and those individuals must have the same nationality as the treaty country. The owners of the enterprise or organization must also maintain a nonimmigrant treaty trader status. Should employers not be located within the United States, if they were to ever attempt to gain entry into the country, they would need to be able to meet the qualifications that would classify them as nonimmigrant treaty traders.
Detailed information about E-1 Treaty Trader Visa requirements can be found here.
Who can File for an E-1 Visa Classification Change of Statues?
Treater traders that are currently in the United States and have a lawful, nonimmigrant status may file for an E-1 Visa. They may do so by filing a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers, and request that their status be changed to an E-1 classification. If the employee of the treaty trader is in the United States as a lawful nonimmigrant, a qualifying employer can file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers, on the behalf of the employee.
Obtaining an E-1 Visa Outside of the US
Requests for an E-1 Visa cannot be made using Form I-129 if the individual that is being filed for is not within the United States. Information pertaining to applying for an E-1 Visa for those who are outside of the United States can be found at the US Department of State. Once the visa is issued, the individual can apply for admission to the US as an E-1 nonimmigrant with a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officer at a proper US port of entry.
E-1 Visa Processing Times
Processing times for an E-1 Visa vary; however, generally, it takes a period of 6 months from the date the Form I-129 is filed.
Terms and Conditions Related to E-1 Visa Holders
Qualified E-1 Visa treaty traders and employees are only eligible to perform in the roles for which they have been approved for. However, treaty trader employees are permitted to work for the parent company of the treaty organization that they work for, or one of the treaty organization’s subsidiaries. Employees may do so if the following applies:
- There is a clear relationship between the treaty trader employer and the parent company or subsidiary.
- The parent company or subsidiary has a need for an executive or supervisory employee, or an employee who possesses vital skills.
- The terms and conditions of employment with the parent company or subsidiary are the same as the terms and conditions of employment with the treaty trader organization.
E-1 Visa Period of Stay
The initial period of stay for E-1 Visa holders, including treaty traders and their employees, is two years, at most. Extensions may be requested and granted for periods of two years. The amount of requests for extensions for an E-1 Visa is unlimited; but, visa holders are required to depart the United States when their E-1 Visa status is either expired or terminated. Typically, E-1 Visa holders who travel outside of the United States may receive automatic readmission for a period of two years upon their return to the country; usually, the filing of a new USCIS Form I-129 is not required.
Family of E-1 Visa Holders
Family members of treaty trader employers and treaty trader employees may also apply for an E-1 Visa. These family members include spouses and children who are under the age of 21 and who are unmarried. These family members do not have to have the same nationality of the employer or employee. Generally, if granted, the same terms and conditions that apply to treaty traders and employees, including period of stay, will apply to their family members.