E-1 visa is a great visa for treaty traders who engage in international trade between the U.S. and their home country.
To qualify for an E-1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
There must be a qualifying treaty between the U.S. and your home country
You must be a citizen of a country that signed a qualifying treaty with the U.S. Please see the list of countries that qualify for an E-1 visa when you click here.
You must possess the nationality of a treaty country
You must be a citizen of a treaty country. If you have a dual nationality and one of the countries is a treaty country, you can still apply for an E-1 visa. For example, if you are an Italian and also Portuguese citizen, you can apply for an E-1 visa through your Italian nationality/passport.
Please note that a nationality of business is determined by the nationality of individual owners of that business. For example, if you already set up a U.S. entity, you are a national of Canada, and you own 100% in that business, the business would have a Canadian nationality.
The activities constitute trade
- There must be an actual exchange of qualifying commodities (for example goods or services);
- 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);
- Trade must be already in existence.
Please note that you cannot apply for an E-1 visa to search for trading opportunities – the trade must be already in existence. If you have signed binding contracts that call for the immediate trade, you could still satisfy this requirement.
Please see a list of items that can be classified as trade when you click here.
Treaty trader must be coming to the U.S. solely to engage in substantial trade
The trade should involve numerous transactions over time (there should be a continuous flow of trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country).
Please note that the monetary value of each transaction is a factor the Consular officer will look at, but there is no minimum requirement for each individual transaction. Furthermore, the Consular officer should focus primarily on the volume of the trade. Therefore, smaller businesses may still qualify for an E-1 visa if they can prove that they derived income from numerous transactions and what was sufficient to support the treaty trader and his family.
More than 50% of the volume of international trade must be with the U.S.
The international trade must be principally between the U.S. and your home country – 50% of the total volume of the international trade must be between the U.S. and your home country.
Can my family also get an E-1 visa? Can my spouse work in the U.S.?
Yes. Your spouse and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) can also apply for an E-1 visa. If your spouse wants to work in the U.S., he/she will have to apply for a work authorization. Please note that your spouse and/or children do not have to have the same nationality as you to apply for an E-1 visa.
Can I hire employees from my home country? Can the employees apply for an E-1 visa? What types of employees can I hire?
Yes. You can hire an employee from your home country and the employee can then apply for an E-1 visa. These are the requirements that have to be met:
- You must be a national of the treaty country/if you set up a business entity, you must own at least 50%
- You and the employee must have the same nationality
- If you are not residing outside the U.S., you must be maintaining your E-1 status in the U.S.
Two categories of employees qualify for an E-1 employee visa: Supervisory/Managerial/Executive employee or Specialized/Essential Employee. Please see our blog post discussing E-2 employees requirements when you click here (this blog post is also applicable to E-1 employees).
Please see our blog post that explains the difference between an E-1 and E-2 visa when you click here.
Please see our blog post discussing E-2 investor visa when you click here.
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