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I am in the U.S. on E-1 visa and I married a U.S. citizen. Can my E-1 employees stay in the U.S. if I become a green card holder?

By June 11, 2020May 14th, 2021E-1 Visa, Immigration
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E-1 visa is a great visa for treaty traders who engage in international trade between the U.S. and their home treaty country.

E-1 is a non-immigrant visa, meaning that you cannot plan to remain in the U.S. permanently and you cannot plan to obtain a green card. When applying for an E-1 visa, you will have to demonstrate that you are only planning to come to the U.S. for a specific period of time.

One advantage of the E-1 visa is that you can bring employees from your home treaty country to the U.S. on an E-1 employee visa. There are 2 categories of employees that can come to the U.S. on an E-1 employee visa: (i) supervisor, manager, or executive, or (ii) specialized/essential employee.

Let’s analyze the following scenario: You are from the UK, you own a 100% in the E-1 company, and you are in the U.S. on an E-1 treaty trader visa. You brought several employees from the UK to the U.S. and the employees are here on an E-1 employee visas. You got married to a U.S. citizen and you could apply for a green card. The question then arises if you can keep your E-1 employees once you become a green card holder.

The short answer is no. Once you become a green card holder, you would no longer hold an E-1 non-immigrant status and you would become a green card holder. Therefore, the E-1 employees could no longer qualify for the E-1 employee visa.

How can I keep the employees in the U.S.?

If you want to keep the E-1 employees, here are 2 options:

  1. Stay in the U.S. on an E-1 treaty trader visa

If you married a U.S. citizen, getting a green card is not mandatory. You can stay in the U.S. on the E-1 treaty trader visa. One issue that could come up when renewing your E-1 visa/entering the U.S. could be that the immigration officer questions your non-immigrant intent since you married a U.S. citizen.

  1. Bring the employees to the U.S. on a different visa

You can bring the employees to the U.S. for example on H-1B visa, E-3 visa, O-1 visa, TN visa, or L-1 visa.

You can read our blog post on whether you have to keep a residence in your home country when you click here.

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