The E-1 Treaty Trader visa is a nonimmigrant classification that allows for a foreign national of a treaty-trader country (a country that maintains a treaty of commerce with the U.S.) to be admitted into the U.S. for the purpose of engaging in international trade. This visa is applicable to individuals or employees of a qualifying organization or company who will be engaged in international trade. Trade to be considered for this category includes both physical movements of goods or transportation and non-physical services (including banking, insurance, tourism, journalism, or technology).
Requirements for a Treaty Trader (Individual)
- They must be a national of a qualifying treaty country
- They must show that they intend to engage in “substantial trade.” The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that this generally refers to, “the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time.”
- They must carry out “principle trade,” meaning at least half of all trades are between the U.S. and the designated treaty country.
- They must prove intent to return to their home country at the end of the visa.
Requirements for a Treaty Trader (Employee)
- They must be the same nationality of the principal employer and the principal employer must have the nationality of a qualifying treaty country.
- They must meet the definition of an “employee.”
- They have a supervisory or managerial role that requires specialized knowledge or skills.
- The employer must be either in the U.S. on a current E-1 visa or if applying outside of the U.S., they must prove that they can meet the E-1 qualifications.
E-1 Visa Terms
- Family Members: Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) can be granted E-1 nonimmigrant visas as dependents of the treaty trader or employee. They do not need to have the same nationality as the qualifying treaty country.
- Period of stay: Those with E-1 status are allowed to stay for a period of two years. Extensions of two years are allowed, with no limit to the number of extensions as long as the treaty trader or employee can continue to show that they qualify, including proof of intent to return to their home country. An E-1 visa holder may travel outside of the U.S. and will likely be granted a two-year extension upon their re-admission into the U.S. However, this also means that family members who are dependents of the treaty trader or employee will also need to travel abroad and reenter the U.S. for an automatic two-year extension.
- Restrictions: The E-1 visa holder may only work in the area in which they have been approved for when their classification was granted. However, it may be possible for them to work for their qualifying employer’s parent company as long as there is an established relationship among the organizations, the employment requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills, and the terms of the employment have not otherwise changed.
One alternative to the E-1 Treaty Trader visa is the E-2 Treaty Investor visa. For those with significant funds to invest and from a treaty trader country, this may be an option. Furthermore, those looking for pathway to citizenship and are able to make a substantial investment (of $500,000 or more), the E-B5 Immigrant Investor visa classification is a good option. If considering an intra-company transfer, the L-1A visa is a viable alternative.