E-1 Treaty Traders

E-1 (Treaty Trader) Visa

What is the E-1 visa?

The E-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf.

What are the requirements for an E-1 visa?

  • You must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.
  • You must carry on “substantial trade,” meaning the continuous flow of sizeable items over time.
  • You must carry on “principal trade” between the U.S. and the treaty country, meaning that 50% or more of the trade is between the U.S. and your country.

What strategic considerations should I keep in mind?

  • You may also seek admission as the employee of a treaty trader if you are the same nationality of the treaty trader, qualify as an “employee” under relevant law, and perform duties of an executive or supervisory character.
  • You are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each, with no limit on the number of extensions granted.
  • You may only work in the activity for which you were approved at the time the classification was granted.
  • You may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.
  • Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization, and there is no specific restriction as to where the E-1 spouse may work.

The E-1 allows nationals of certain countries with treaties of friendship, commerce, and navigation or bilateral investment treaties with the United States to enter the country to direct or manage a business that engages in substantive trade with the U.S. This visa requires the business to delegate at least 50 percent of its trading activity with the U.S.

How do I qualify for this visa?

The treaty trader must be a national of a treaty country who is willing to put a substantial sum of money at risk in order to operate a business that is expected to yield more than a marginal return on investment. The treaty trader must also be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country), meet the definition of “employee” under the relevant law, and either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

How long can I stay in the US on this visa?

E-1 treaty traders are granted authorized stay up to two years at a time.

Can I apply for Green Card while on this visa? 

Yes, an E-1 trader may apply for the green card as long as the investor meets the investment required to petition for the green card.