E-1 Visa for Treaty Traders
The E-1 visa allows foreign nationals whose home country has a treaty with the U.S. to come to the U.S. to work in international trade on their own or on behalf of an employer.
Employees of the investor or qualifying organization may also be eligible E-1 visas. Trade is the exchange of goods, services, or technology between the U.S. and the treaty country. Trade includes:
- International banking
The requirements and application process for an E-1 visa depends on whether the candidate is currently living in the U.S. or not.
To qualify for an E-1 visa for treaty traders, a candidate must:
- Have a valid visa if currently living in the U.S.
- Be a citizen of a treaty country. The U.S. Department of State maintains a current list of treaty countries.
- Be employed by another individual of the same nationality or a company where at least half of its ownership is the same nationality as the candidate.
- Perform or be employed by a company that engages in “substantial trade,” meaning sizeable and frequent international transactions. While no minimum requirement regarding the value or number of transactions exists, more exchanges of greater value are preferable.
- Perform or be employed by a company where more than half of the total value of trade is between the U.S and the trader’s country.
- Be an essential employee in a supervisor or executive position, or have very specialized and essential skills.
Application Process: Traders in the U.S.
A trader currently living in the U.S. should file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request a change of status to E-1. An employer may also file Form I-129 on an employee’s behalf if the employee will have executive or supervisory duties.
The application must provide evidence that:
- The candidate is a citizen of a treaty country.
- The employer has the same nationality or at least 50% of the employer is owned by individuals who have the same nationality.
- The candidate will have executive or supervisory responsibilities or special qualifications.
- The candidate or employer engages in “substantial trade.”
Application Process: Traders Outside the U.S.
Traders living outside the U.S. must apply for an E-1 at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. The following steps may vary. Generally, the applicant must:
- Select the location where applying for the visa.
- Complete the online Form DS-160, which requires a photo to be uploaded. The application confirmation page must be printed out.
- Schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where applying for the visa.
- Pay the application fee before the visa interview. An additional fee may be charged in some countries when the visa is approved.
- Complete Form DS-156E.
- Bring to the visa interview:
- A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and for at least six months beyond the time the candidate is expected to stay in the U.S.
- Form DS-160 application confirmation page.
- Form DS-156E.
- The application fee payment receipt.
- If living in the U.S.:
- $460 USCIS filing fee
- If living outside the U.S.:
- $205 filing fee (U.S. State Department) + possible visa issuance fee depending on U.S. Embassy or Consulate location
- If living in the U.S.:
- Related Forms
- File Form I-129 to USCIS if living in the U.S. or online Form DS-160 and Form DS-156E to U.S. State Department if living outside the U.S.
- If living outside of the U.S., have a visa interview.
- Initial petition up to 2 years.
- Unlimited extensions every 2 years.
- Immigrant Intent
- You may not have immigrant intent. At the airport, border, or other port of entry, you will need to satisfy the U.S. government officer that you have a residence in your home country and do not intend to abandon it. You must demonstrate that you are a nonimmigrant—that your visit to the U.S. will end after a specific amount of time.
- Who Qualifies
- International Traders
- Period of Stay
- Initial petition: 2 years
- Extensions: unlimited 2-year extensions, but only as long as the conditions under which the visa was granted remain valid.
- Note: E-1 visa holders who travel abroad may be granted automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the U.S. without filing a new petition.