E-1: Treaty Trader
The E-1 treaty trader nonimmigrant classification allows a person to enter the U.S. for the purpose of furthering substantial trade that is international in scope. The trade must be primarily between the U.S. and the treaty country where the person holds citizenship.
E-1 treaty trader countries include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark (does not include Faroe Islands or Greenland), Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France (includes Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Reunion), Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan (includes Bonin and Ryukyu Islands), Jordan, Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands (includes Aruba and Netherlands Antilles), Norway (does not include Svalbard), Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Spain (applies to all territories), Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom (applies only to British territories in Europe), and Yugoslavia (valid for new Republics that arose out of former Yugoslavia). Iran is also a treaty trader country, however, the treaty is inoperative because of the Executive Order preventing trade with Iran.
An employer must show that the U.S. business has created substantial trade between the U.S. and the treaty country before employees can qualify for E-1 trader treaty visa classification. Trade is not limited to goods and services but the trade must principally exist with the treaty country. This means that more than 50% of the total volume of international trade done by the U.S. employer must be between the U.S. and the treaty country. If the U.S. entity is a branch office, then the foreign business must have more than 50% of its trade with the U.S. At least 50% of the U.S. entity must be owned by non-U.S. resident nationals of the treaty country.
Applying for an E-1 or E-2
Some U.S. Consulates require the U.S. company, where the individual will work, to become E-1 or E-2 qualified before an individual can apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa. In this situation, an initial request to qualify the U.S. company for E-1 or E-2 status must be filed together with at least one individual’s E-1 or E-2 visa application at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over the treaty country. Once the company is E-1 or E-2 qualified, any nationals of the treaty country who will work for the qualified U.S. entity may apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Other Consulates simply allow all of the corporate and investment information to be presented at the time of each visa application and do not maintain formal “registrations” of E-1/E-2 qualified companies.
Any individual who is a national of the treaty country can apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa if he or she is entering the U.S. to work as an executive, supervisor, or an essential employee. The individual does not have to be employed by the company abroad in order to qualify for E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrant status. Nor does the individual need to be the investor him or herself to qualify for an E-2 visa.
E-1 and E-2 visas can be issued for up to five years and are renewable indefinitely as long as the company and the individual continue to qualify for E-1 or E-2 status. Upon each entry to the United States, E-1 and E-2 visa holders are generally admitted to the U.S. in E status for a period of two years as long as the E-1 or E-2 visa is valid at the time of entry.
Spouses and dependent children under the age of 21 of E-1 or E-2 visa recipients are also eligible for E-1 or E-2 dependent visas. Moreover, E spouses are eligible to apply for employment authorization after they enter the U.S.