An E-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa classification that is reserved for nationals of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation). E-1 visa holders are admitted into the United States to conduct international trade activities. In certain cases, employees of such a person or an organization that carries on international trade may also qualify for an E-1 visa. For individuals who are already in the United States and hold a different type of visa, they can file Form I-129 to change their status to E-1.
Trade is defined as “the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country.” Domestic trade is not considered trade for E-1 classification purposes.
To qualify for E-1 classification, a treaty trader must:
- Be a national of a country with which the United States has a treaty of commerce and navigation;
- Carry on substantial trade; and
- Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for the E-1 visa.
The United States Department of State maintains a list of treaty countries, which can be viewed at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/fees/treaty.html.
“Substantial trade” refers to continuous trade, involving numerous transactions of sizable items (i.e. a large number of items and/or items with a high monetary value). There is no particular minimum requirement for the size or volume of transactions, so this requirement will be examined on a case-by-case basis.
“Principal trade” between the United States and the E-1 treaty trader’s country refers to situations in which over 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the United States and the treaty trader’s country.
Treaty traders who qualify for E-1 visa classification are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years.Requests for an extension may be granted in increments of two years at a time. There is no cap on the number of extensions an E-1 visa holder may be granted.
Employees of a treaty trader may be eligible for E-1 classification if they meet the following requirements:
- They are the same nationality as the alien employer;
- The employer meets the definition of “employer”; and
- They are engaged in executive or supervisory duties or have special qualifications.
Family members of E-1 visa holders may also be eligible to obtain a visa as dependents. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany treaty traders and employees. If the E-1 dependent visa classification is granted, family members will generally be granted visas with the same expiration date as the E-1 visa holder.
If you are in need of an attorney to help you with your E-1 visa application or you need more information regarding the E-1 visa process, the attorneys at Tanner Law Offices can assist you. Please contact our office at 717-836-0471 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.