The short answer is: it depends.
In all situations, the trade will have to continue in your home country to meet the E-1 requirement that the trade constitutes an “international exchange”. For example, if you have been providing management consulting services to U.S. clients for the past 2 years from your home country and you now want to apply for an E-1 visa and move to the U.S. the provision of consulting services must continue after you get an E-1 visa. This exchange must be between the U.S. and the treaty country and must be international. If you would be providing services directly to the U.S. clients while you are physically in the U.S., this trade would most likely not be considered international. In this case, it is advisable that you maintain the business in your home country and this business provides services (eg. hire consultants) to the U.S. clients. In this case, the invoices should be made out to U.S. clients from the Treaty Country and the profits/revenue should accrue to the Treaty country.
Please note, that merely placing proceeds from the services you provided to the U.S. clients in the U.S. in your bank account in the treaty country would not mean that an international exchange occurred, as the proceeds would not support any business activity in the treaty country.
On the other hand, if you set up a U.S. business entity and this entity has been importing materials from your home country for many years and you now want to come to the U.S. and manage this business, this trade could continue without any people in the home country.
Therefore, the answer to the question whether the business has to continue in your home country will depend on the type of trade you do and on the specific circumstances of each case.
Please see the E-1 visa requirements when you click here.
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