If you were granted an E-1 visa in the past and you now need to renew your E-1 visa as it is about to expire, you may be wondering what you will have to demonstrate in the E-1 renewal application and what kind of documents you will have to submit. Renewal applications are pretty similar as the original E-1 applications. The key though is showing that the substantial trade still exists between the Treaty Country and the U.S.
You will have to submit documents showing that you meet all the E-1 requirements:
There is a qualifying treaty between the U.S. and your home country
Please see a list of E-1 treaty countries when you click here.
You possess the nationality of a treaty country
The activities constitute trade
There must be an actual exchange of qualifying commodities (for example goods or services) (Please see our blog post on What is considered trade for E-1 purposes when you click here;
The exchange must be traceable and identifiable, must be for a consideration, and must flow between the two countries.
The trade must be between the U.S. and a Treaty Country (the trade must be international);
You should submit documents that show that the substantial trade has continued and will continue. (eg. documents showing trade and contracts for future trade). Please click here to find out what documents you should submit to prove that there is an international trade.
You/the E-1 company has been engaging in a substantial trade
Please note that you do not need to set up a business entity in the U.S. or in your home country for an E-1 visa. However, in certain situations, in may be practical that you set up an entity in the U.S. for example for tax or liability purposes.
Substantial trade means that there must be a continuous flow of trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country. This means, that there must be numerous trade exchanges between the U.S. and the treaty country over time.
In your renewal application, you will have to demonstrate that you/the E-1 company has been engaging in substantial trade. You will have to check the requirements of the Consulate where you will be applying for the E-1 renewal, as Consulates often have specific instructions on what documents they want you to submit.
For example, the Consulate in London requires that you submit a trade spreadsheet listing all qualifying transactions during the last calendar year. Even though the Consulate in London only asks for the spreadsheet for the last calendar year, if the trade between the U.S. and your home country has been increasing every year since you were granted the E-1 visa and the trade has been substantial, we would definitely recommend including evidence of this and mentioning it in your E-1 renewal application to demonstrate that the trade is substantial.
What if the trade has been decreasing since I was granted the E-1 visa? Do I have a chance to have the E-1 visa renewed?
This will depend. If there is a reason why the trade decreased (e.g. economic situation due to the Corona virus outbreak, personal reasons, etc.), you should definitely explain it in the Cover Letter of your E-1 renewal application.
When you originally applied for the E-1 visa in 2015, the trade for 2015 was 1 million USD. Since 2015, the trade has been decreasing every year, but the trade was still over 500,000 each year, you traded with 40 different vendors per year, and there were over 100 different transactions each year. In this case, you would most likely still meet the substantiality requirement and you could still get your E-1 visa renewed.
When you originally applied for the E-1 visa in 2015, the trade for 2015 was $250,000. Since 2015, the trade has been decreasing every year (to no more than $150,000 per year), you traded with less vendors, and there were less transactions. In this case, you may have a hard time to prove the substantiality requirement and to get your E-1 visa renewed.
More than 50% of the volume of international trade has been with the U.S.
In your renewal application, you will have to demonstrate that more than 50% of the volume of international trade has been with the U.S.
Please note that more than 50% of the international trade should always be between the U.S. and your home country, otherwise there is an argument that you are not maintaining your E-1 status.
It is not a requirement to employ U.S. workers in the U.S., but if the E-1 company employs U.S. workers, you should definitely mention it in the E-1 renewal application.
Please click here if you want to read more about the E-1 employee visa categories.
Please click here to find out whether your spouse needs a work authorization if he/she wants to work in the U.S. on the E-1 visa.
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