E-1 Visas for Treaty Traders
Who is Eligible?
Nationals of certain treaty countries may be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade. Trade is the international exchange of items including goods, services, international banking, insurance, technology, and tourism. The trade must be substantial in frequency and amount of transactions. While there is no value amount required, the frequency and value of transactions must rise to the level of "continuous international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country." Documentation of a detailed business plan is required.
Is Employer Sponsorship Required?
No. An individual may qualify if engaging in international trade on his or her own behalf. Also, certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification. Such employees must be deemed essential or a supervisor/executive and must possess the same nationality as the qualifying company.
How Long Can an Individual Stay in E-1 Status?
Status can be granted in 2 year maximum increments. There is no maximum number of extensions that may be granted, but the applicant must maintain the ultimate intention to depart the U.S. and not remain permanently.
Spouses and Children
Spouses and children (under age 21) can be granted E-2 dependent status. The period of admission will match that of the principal. EAD work authorization is available to spouses, not children.
Government Filing Fees
$460 if the applicant is in the U.S. in another status and wishes to change to E-1 by filing form I-129.
Individuals who are outside the U.S. should not file an I-129. Rather, they file form DS-160 at a U.S. consulate, supplemental evidence, and the $205 fee.
E-1 cases in the U.S. are solely processed at the CSC where processing times are currently at 2 months.
Expedited adjudication through the $1225 Premium Processing service is available.
Consular Post based applications take 1-2 months, depending on location.
Treaties, Embargoes, Sanctions
E visas are based on relations between the U.S. and its treaty partners. As such, changes to treaties, embargoes on goods, or economic sanctions can be problematic and should be monitored. E visa travelers who are dual nationals should exercise care to present the passport matching the treaty relationship for which they are trading when they seek admission to the U.S.