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E-1 Visas For People Who Qualify As a Treaty Trader

Both E-1 Treaty Trader visas and E-2 Treaty Investor Visas require that the applicant is from the country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. Please click here for list of countries that have treaties with the United States.

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

The E-1 visa allows “treaty traders” to qualify for a specific non-immigrant visa. Only nationals from certain countries qualify for these unique visas. With an E-1 visa, traders and their employees can engage in international trade while also living in the United States with their spouses and dependent family members.

The Purpose of the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

The E-1 trader visa allows those who engage in international trade to live and work in the United States while they engage in international trade. The underlying purpose of this visa is to encourage trade and investment, in addition to promoting peace and good relations with other countries.

Must-Know Definitions for the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

Understanding the qualifications for an E-1 visa requires that you recognize some legal terms used in the definition. Some of the most important definitions include the following:

  • Trade:The international exchange of goods, services, funding-related services, and more
  • Substantial Trade:The continuous flow of international trade, which includes numerous transactions over time
  • Principal Trade:Over 50% of the total volume of international trade from a treaty country is with the United States
  • Executive or Supervisory Character:The employee involved has supervisory control and responsibility of a company’s operation or some major portion of it
  • Special Qualifications:An employee has specific skills or knowledge that makes his or her services essential to the operation of a company

Application Process for E-1 and E-2

The application process for an E-visa will vary depending on where you are located—whether it is in the United States or in a treaty country.

If you are in the United States already…

As long as you are in the United States in a valid nonimmigrant status, you can change your status to an E-2 non-immigrant status using a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), which is filed with USCIS. If the I-129 petition is approved, USCIS will issue an I-797 Approval Notice.  However, if you change your status to an E-2 non-immigrant status while in the U.S., you can only stay and work in the U.S. and won’t be able to travel internationally. In order to travel abroad, you will need to apply for a new E-2 visa in your passport through consular processing before you can enter the U.S. to work in E-2 visa status.

If you are outside of the United States…

If you are outside the United States, you must go through the consulate application process by using Form DS-160 and Form DS-156E which are filed with the U.S. Department of State, and schedule the visa appointment with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. If the visa appointment is successful, the you will receive the E-2 visa in your passport and be able to enter the United States using the E-2 visa in your passport.

Validity Period for E-1 and E-2

Initial: 2 years

Extension: Increments of up to 2 years each (can be extended indefinitely, so long as applicant continues to meet all the requirements).

Criteria for Eligibility

Treaty traders can be either individuals or companies. Companies can allow their employees to apply for an E-1 visas as treaty traders if they meet certain requirements.

Treaty traders can only apply for an E-1 visa if they meet the following qualifications:

  1. The applicant must be a national of the country that has a trade treaty with the United States
  2. The trading company for which the applicant is coming to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country
  3. The international trade must be “substantial” in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade
  4. Conduct principal trade between the United States and the treaty country

While these requirements are based on the actions of the employer or business, the employee must also meet certain qualifications as well. These include:

  1. Be the same nationality as the employer (who also has the same nationality as the treaty country)
  2. Be considered an “employee” under relevant law (instead of an independent contractor or consultant, for example)
  3. Either be someone who is considered an executive, has supervisory characteristics, or has special qualifications

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