E1 Visa Treaty Trader

Treaty traders and their employees may apply for visas to carry on substantial trade between the United States and their home country, if their country of citizenship has the required treaty with the United States. The E1 treaty trader classification is authorized for a national of a country with which the United States has a commercial treaty, who is coming to the U.S. solely to engage in trade of a substantial nature principally between the United States and the alien's country of nationality. The trade involved must be international exchange (successfully negotiated contracts binding on all parties) of items of trade between the U.S. and a treaty country. Title to the trade item must pass from one treaty party to the other. If the alien is inside the U.S., he or she may apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. This classification does not require a petition for employment if the alien is outside of the U.S. Instead, the alien applies for an E1 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad.

Document Requirements

The E1 visa application must be filed with evidence that:

  • The applicant is a national of a country with which the U.S. has a treaty or agreement;
  • The activity constitutes trade as defined in the federal immigration regulations;
  • The trade is of a substantial nature (i.e. an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country);
  • The trade conducted by the alien is principally trade between the United States and the treaty country of which the alien is a national. Trade is deemed to be principally between the U.S. and treaty country when over 50% of the volume of international trade conducted by the treaty trader is between the U.S. and treaty country of the treaty trader's nationality;
  • If the applicant is not the principal trader, he or she must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possess special qualifications that make the applicant's services essential to the successful and efficient operation of the enterprise;
  • Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify. The applicant intends to depart the U.S. upon the expiration of E1 status. (However, an application for initial admission, change of status, or extension of stay in E classification may not be denied solely on the basis of an approved request for permanent labor certification or a filed or approved immigrant visa preference petition.);
  • The employee has the same nationality as the principal alien employer; and
  • The alien principal employer is an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons having the nationality of the treaty country.

E1 Dependents / Family Members

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, may receive derivative E visas in order to accompany the principal alien. Family members may be students in the U.S. while remaining in E-1 dependent status and spouses may apply for work authorization with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Time Limits

Holders of E visas may reside in the United States as long as they continue to maintain their status with the trade between their home country and the United States.