The E1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa allowing foreign treaty nationals along with their spouse and unmarried child under 21 years old to enter the U.S. for the purpose of trading goods from his/her country of citizenship with the United States from the American soil.
Alternatively, the treaty trader can be an overseas company, also a national of a treaty country, via which a foreign national can come as an essential employee to work for its U.S. subsidiary, affiliate or parent company.
Eligibility for E1 Visa
To be eligible for an E1 visa as a Treaty Trader, the applicant must:
1. Be a national of a country that maintains a treaty of commerce with the United States
The individual investor must have citizenship to that country and need not necessarily reside in that country (the requirement varies depending on which U.S. Consulate the E1 visa is applied for). The nationality of the U.S. business will be determined by the nationality of its owners, individuals or entities, who must hold at least 50% or more of the company shares or interest. For a list of treaty countries please visit the Department of State website.
2. Seeking to enter the U.S. to develop and direct the import or export of substantial trade
The applicant for the E1 Visa will also have to demonstrate that he or she will have an executive and effective position in the management of the business. The Immigration services will have a special look at the applicant’s qualifications, thus it is preferable to have experience in trade and/or the considered products.
Also, the trade must already be in progress to qualify as such and mere prospection will not be considered. The adjudicating officer will look at binding contracts upon the parties that call for the immediate exchange of qualifying items of trade.
To qualify as substantial, the trade must be in continuous flow between the two countries and involve numerous transactions over time. The volume of the trade as well as the monetary value will be considered. Overall, the more transactions of larger value there are, the greater chance the applicant has to see his visa approved.
3. Trade is principally between the U.S. and the treaty country
The proportion required to qualify for the “principal trade” requirement is 51%, meaning that the trade between the U.S. and the Treaty country of the E1 visa holder must represent at least 51% of the total trade carried out by the business.
The United States Immigration Services define Trade as “the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to:
- International banking
- Technology and its transfer
- Some news-gathering activities.”