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Is the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa right for you?

By August 30, 2023E-1 Visa
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The E-1 visa is a great option available for individuals who seek to enter the U.S. to carry out trade activities – defined as the international exchange of goods or services — between the U.S. and the treaty country.

Provided your situation matches what the E-1 category contemplates, it could be a straightforward and reliable way to gain work authorization in the United States. Investigate the following 5 questions to find out if the E-1 could be an option for you.

1. Looking back at the past 12 months, did you conduct a high volume and monetary value of trade between the U.S. and your country?

Evidence of existing, continuous flow of goods or services between your country and the United States, within the past 12 months, which takes the form of numerous transactions over time, and with a high total monetary value being exchanged – will be the core of a successful E-1 visa application.

There are a wide variety of goods and services that can qualify as “trade” when exchanged. In addition to traditional goods such as merchandise, equipment, natural resources, and food, E-1 trade can be of services, such as IT services, or transaction of insurance or financial products, transportation services, tourism services, etc.

2. Does the trade between your country and the United States exceed 50% of all international trades made by your business?

In addition to the trade being substantial in terms of its absolute volume and monetary value, the trade between the U.S. and the treaty country must be the majority of all international trade that the business (or individual) engages in. In other words, more than 50% of the applicant’s international trade must be between the treaty country and the United States.

Domestic trade within the treaty country is not counted in this analysis. It is important to distinguish that the trade between the U.S. and the treaty country need not be the majority of all trade the business engages in; just that it must comprise the majority of its international trade.

3. Are you a national of a treaty country? If the trader is a business, is the business entity owned at least 50% by nationals of the treaty country?

The list of countries for which the E-1 visa is available is found here. It is notable that E-1 visa eligibility is determined by the country of nationality (citizenship), not by country of birth. U.S. permanent residents (green card holders) are not eligible for E-1 visas even if they hold treaty country citizenship.

In many cases, the business entity that carries out the trade is the petitioner for the E-1 visa. The nationality of a company is determined by the nationality of its stockholders/owners. For a company to have treaty nationality, 50% or more of its ownership shares must be held by nationals of that treaty country. It is important to note that dual citizens and U.S. green card holders cannot be counted in calculating this percentage.

Proving the required ownership percentage held by treaty country nationals may be a complicated exercise for corporations with complicated ownership structures, for example, if some of the interest in the business is held by another corporation or entity, such as a private equity fund. In some cases, applicants must go one step further and look at the nationality of the owners of that corporation or entity.

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