Do I have to hire U.S. employees in order to get an E-1 visa?

No. You do not have to hire U.S. employees when applying for an E-1 visa (but hiring U.S. workers is always good, even for an E-1 visa application).

Do I have to make an investment when applying for an E-1 visa?

No. You do not have to make a substantial investment in the U.S. when applying for an E-1 visa. Investment would be required if you are applying for an E-2 visa or EB-5 green card.

Can a service be considered trade?

Yes. A service can be considered trade for an E-1 visa purposes. Please note that if you want to qualify for an E-1 visa as a treaty trader, the provision of services must be the purpose of your business and must be the saleable commodity which you sell to the clients.

Does the trade already have to exist at the time I am applying for an E-1 visa?

Yes. The trade must already be in existence at the time you apply for an E-1 visa. However, the immigration regulations state that if you have evidence of successfully negotiated contracts that are binding upon the parties and call for immediate exchange of items of trade, you may still qualify for an E-1 visa.

What amount of trade is substantial?

There is no set minimum volume of trade, but you will have to show that the trade is substantial and that there is a continuous flow of trade items between the U.S. and your home country.

I am a small business owner. Can I still qualify for an E-1 visa?

Yes. The regulations specifically state that small businesses can also qualify for an E-1 visa if they can demonstrate numerous transactions over a period of time (even though they are smaller in value).

Do I have to set up a company in the U.S.?

You are not required to set up a business entity in the U.S. when applying for an E-1 visa, but it may be necessary to comply with the E-1 visa requirements in some situations.

Do I need a Business Plan for an E-1 visa?

No. You are not required to submit a Business Plan with your E-1 application, but it still may be a good idea to submit one in some cases.

Does the business in my home country have to continue?

This depends. Please see our blog post on this when you click here.

Can I bring my family and can they work in the U.S.?

Yes. Your spouse and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) can also apply for an E-1 visa. If your spouse wants to work in the U.S., he/she will have to apply for a work authorization.

Which countries are eligible to get an E-1 visa?

The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa is only for people from the countries that the U.S. has a Treaty with. Please see the full list of E-1 Treaty Countries when you click here.

Does an E-1 visa lead to a green card?

No.  An E-1 Visa is a non-immigrant Visa and does NOT lead to a Green Card. While it does not lead to a green card, it is often approved for a 5-year period and as long as the business is still in operation you can renew the Visa indefinitely. If you qualify for another green card category (eg EB-5) you should consult an immigration attorney to explore the best way to apply for the green card.  This can be a tricky area as the temporary intent aspect of the E-2 Visa makes applying for a green card difficult.

How long does it take to get an E-1 visa?

An E-1 visa is a document intensive petition.  In addition to government forms, the visa requires submission of a binder full of documentation. If you are applying for a change of status through USCIS, the processing time is usually couple weeks/months. If you are applying for an E-1 visa at a Consulate, the processing time can be anywhere from 3 weeks to couple months.

How much does it cost?

Our legal fees for an E-1 will be $6,500. If you are applying for a change of status through USCIS, you will also have to pay the I-129 filing fee which is currently $1,440. Additional fees may apply if you have family members that will be applying for E-1 dependent visas. If you are applying for an E-1 visa at a Consulate, you will have to pay the visa fee which is $205 and nationals of certain countries will also have to pay a visa reciprocity fee.

Do I need a lawyer for the E-1 visa?

Yes. Like most Immigration law, the E-1 regulations are complicated and you must demonstrate to immigration officials that you have met all of the legal elements.  In addition, the documentation requirements for an E-1 Visa are quite extensive and a legal brief must be written linking all of the elements of the Statute to your case.

Please see our blog post on E-1 visa when you click here.

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