Skip to main content

The Nationality Requirement & E-1 Visa

By June 28, 2023E-1 Visa
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

E-1 visa is a Treaty Trader Visa and allows nationals from certain countries to live and work in the United States to engage in international trade between the U.S. and their home country. In order to be eligible, the foreign national must come from a Treaty Country and a full list of Treaty countries can be found by clicking here.

One of the E-1 visa requirements is that nationals of an E-1 visa treaty country must own at least 50% in the E-1 company.

Example 1

E-1 applicant set up an entity in the U.S. (the E-1 entity is trading with clients in the Applicant’s home country). This entity is 60% owned by the E-1 applicant and the remaining 40% is owned by U.S. nationals. Does the applicant meet the nationality requirement?

The E-1 company in the scenario above would meet the nationality requirement as it is owned at least 50% by E-1 country nationals, in this case it is owned 60% by an individual who is a national of the E-1 visa treaty country. For the E-1 visa, it’s not relevant who owns the remaining 40% (it could be owned by US nationals or other third country nationals), the important thing is that at least 50% is owned by treaty country nationals. The individual in the scenario above would be applying for an E-1 treaty trader visa and would need to show that he/she is coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the business.

Example 2

E-1 entity is owned 60% by 3 different treaty country nationals (all are nationals of the same country, let’s say for example Canada). Each of the owners is an individual and owns 20% in the E-1 entity). Does this E-1 entity meet the nationality requirement?

The nationality requirement would be met here, as the E-1 entity is owned at least 60% by treaty country nationals. However, the application process in this scenario would be different, because none of the owners owns a majority and controls the company, the company would first need to be registered at the Consulate/with USCIS as an E-1 company. Once it’s registered as an E-1 company, it could then send E-1 employees to the U.S. Please note that the employees could be both some of the owners with 20% ownership or also unrelated workers that have no ownership stake in the company (it’s not a requirement that the E-2 employee has ownership in the company).

Dual Nationals

Sometimes it happens that an E-1 visa applicant has a dual nationality – is a national of two different countries. If this happens, the applicant will have to choose which nationality he/she will use for the E-1 visa (if both countries are E1 visa treaty countries, then an important factor to look at is the reciprocity period  of each country). The only scenario when an E-1 company could have 2 different nationalities is, if it is owned 50/50 by nationals of two different E2 visa treaty countries (e.g. national of Canada owns 50%, and a national of Mexico owns 50%). In this scenario, the company could then bring employees who meet the requirements both from Canada and Mexico.

What if I become a Green card holder – can I keep the E-1 employees in the U.S.?

Let’s look back at Example no. 1 – you are a national of a Treaty country (e.g. Italy) and own 60% in a U.S. company, and over the years you have brought multiple E-1 employees to the U.S. You now have an opportunity to become a green card holder but you are wondering whether that would have any impact on the status of your E-1 employees. The answer is that once you become a green card holder, your ownership in the entity would no longer be considered as ownership of the E-1 visa treaty country national, and the employees would no longer qualify for an E-1 visa through your ownership in the company. Please see more about this topic here.

Are there any restrictions as to who can own the remaining % in the company?

No, the requirement is that E-1 treaty country nationals need to own at least 50%. The remaining % can be owned by other nationals from your country, third country nationals, or even U.S. nationals.

FREE E-1 Visa Resources

Click on the buttons below in order to claim your free E-1 Visa Guide, sign up for our free E-1 Visa Webinar, or watch our E-1 Visa videos.

Download Our E-1 Visa Guide
Sign Up For Our E-1 Visa Webinar
Join Our E-1 Visa Facebook Group
Watch Our E-1 Visa Videos

Set up an E-1 Visa Consultation

For a dedicated one-on-one E-1 Visa consultation with one of our lawyers, click on the button below to schedule your consultation.

Schedule a consultation

This website and blog constitutes attorney advertising. Do not consider anything in this website or blog legal advice and nothing in this website constitutes an attorney-client relationship being formed. Set up a one-hour consultation with us before acting on anything you read here. Past results are no guarantee of future results and prior results do not imply or predict future results. Each case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Leave a Reply