The E-1 Visa: Treaty Traders

Visa E-1The E-1 visa is intended to facilitate the temporary work authorization of non-U.S. citizens, to advance trade and investments between the U.S. and other nations with which the U.S. has signed treaties. Investors, business owners, managers and essential employees are able to obtain Trade Investment Visa and perform work here in the United States. By providing a way for substantial investors to establish businesses in the U.S, this stimulates the exchange of goods and services between the U.S. and other nations.  Aliens who are citizens of treaty signing nations (see the tables below) are referred to as Treaty Foreign Nationals, or TFNs, and  are eligible to receive an E-1 or E-2 visa, which allows those individuals to live and work lawfully in the United States for an extended period of time.

Who is Eligible?

ACS Law Offices can help you obtain an E-1 visa if you fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Managers, executives or specialists for a company operating in the U.S.
  • Key staff managing a U.S. branch of an affiliate.
  • Personnel sent by a treaty nation company to establish a U.S. company.

In any case, the petitioner must demonstrate an existing substantial level of trade between a foreign country and the U.S. These requirements are designed to restrict E-1 visas to people who serve in a supervisory or executive capacity and whose positions require essential, high-level skills.  The opportunity for an E-1 visa has been extended to foreign nationals hoping to enter the U.S. for professional reasons.

To qualify for an E-1 trader visa, the applicant must be seeking entry into the United States to carry on “substantial trade in goods or services in a capacity that is supervisory or executive or involves essential skills.” You may be granted an E-1 visa if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • You are a TFN, or at least 50% of your company is owned by TFNs;
  • You enter the U.S. to carry on more than 50% of your trade between your U.S. business and a TFN country;
  • This level of trade is already active at the time you apply for E-1 status; existing trade includes binding contracts which call for the immediate exchange of goods or services.
  • You perform executive or managerial duties or possess special skills that make your services essential to your employer’s business; and you promise to depart the U.S. when this status changes.

Duration of the E Visa

Both E-1 and E-2 visas are generally issued for five years, but this term can be extended by a U.S. consulate or embassy. Initially, admission is granted for each entry to the U.S. for a period of two years during the life of the visa, and extensions may be issued for up to two years at a time. Traders and investors can remain in the United States indefinitely, so long as they maintain their eligibility and treaty status. 

Spouses and Minor Children

The spouses and unmarried minor children of petitioners are also eligible for E visas. Spouses may seek U.S. employment authorization from USCIS, but minor children are not eligible for employment in the United States.

Unauthorized employment will not cause their deportation, as in the case of a spouse or child who holds a B, TN, or H visa, and in addition, servants of the E visa holder can be issued B-1 visas with work authorization.

Domestic workers of an E-1 visa holder can be eligible to continue working for their employer, under the terms of a B-1 visa.

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