Looking for up-to-date information on the E-1 visa? You came to the right place. This is an essential classification for nationals of a treaty country that has trade agreements with the US.
We recommend reading this comprehensive and complete guide, but if you have any questions, you have our experienced immigration lawyers in Los Angeles at your service. They will make sure you don’t make mistakes in the documentation and explain your best options for your case.
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The E-1 Visa For treaty traders in agreements with The United States In 2023
If you are from one of the countries with which the United States maintains trade relations, you may be able to qualify for the E-1 visa. Of course, your purpose must only be to participate in international trade in a substantial way in your own name.
A a treaty country is one with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, or a qualified international agreement, or has been considered a qualified country by legislation.
Some employees of treaty traders or a qualified organization may also be eligible for an E-1 visa.
What Is An E-1 Visa?
An E-1 visa, also known as a treaty trader visa or trade visa, allows for bilateral agreements between the US and treaty countries which are in treaty of commerce and navigation. Currently, approximately 50 nations maintain such relationships with the US.
What Type Of Visa Is The E-1?
The E-1 visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa, so it allows alien nationals to be admitted to the US on a temporary basis, as long as they fulfill the primary purpose of the visa.
Qualified E-1 Visa Treaty Countries For 2023
Those individuals who are citizens of the following countries may qualify for the E-1 visa:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina;
- Chinese (Taiwan);
- Costa Rica;
- South Korea;
- New Zealand;
- United Kingdom;
On the website of the US Department of State you will find more information and some clarification on some of the countries mentioned.
E-1 Visa Requirements In 2023
The requirements to qualify for an E-1 visa depend on whether the applicant is a treaty trader or an employee of the treaty trader.
Requirements To Qualify As A Treaty Trader
- You must be a national of a country with which the United States has a treaty of commerce and navigation;
- The trade to be carried out will be of a substantial nature;
- You must conduct priority trade between the US and the treaty country for which you qualified.
Requirements To Qualify As An Employee Of A Treaty Trader
- The employee of the treaty trader must have the same nationality of a treaty country as the main noncitizen employer;
- You must meet the definition of an employee under applicable law;
- You will have to perform functions of an executive or supervisory nature. If you are employed in a minor position, you must have special qualifications that make the services you provide essential to the successful operation of the treaty enterprise.
If the noncitizen primary employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization that is at least 50% owned by persons in the US who are nationals of the treaty country. These owners must maintain any of the following:
- Nonimmigrant treaty trader status;
- If the owners are not inside the US, they should be classified as nonimmigrant treaty traders.
Requirements and Considerations
Duties that are executive or supervisory in nature are those that primarily provide the employee with ultimate control and responsibility for the overall operation of the treaty’s enterprise overall operation, or a major component thereof.
Special qualifications are skills that make the employee’s services essential. Here are some possible ones:
- The level of demonstrated experience in the employee’s area of practice;
- Whether there are other individuals who possess the employee’s specific skills;
- The salary that special qualifications can get;
- Whether the qualifications and skills are available in the US.
In addition, knowing a foreign culture or language does not by itself meet this requirement. In certain cases, an essential skill may become more common in the future and no longer qualify.
E-1 Visa Terminology
- Trade: Is the international exchange of commercial items between the US and the treaty country, such as services, goods, international banking, transportation, insurance, tourism, technology and its transfer.
- Substantial trade: It is the continuous flow of important items with numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement on monetary value or volume, but monetary value is an important factor for “substantiality” and more weight will be given to these.
- Principal trade: When 50% of the total volume of international trade occurs between the US and the treaty country of the treaty trader’s nationality.
How To Get The E-1 Visa In 2023
There are two ways to apply for the US E-1 visa:
Application Within The United States
Treaty traders who are in the U.S. in lawful nonimmigrant status (for example, on a United States tourist visa), may file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to apply a change in status to E-1 classification.
For employees, the eligible employer can file Form I-129 to request a change of status on behalf of the employee.
Application Outside The United States
It is not possible to apply for the E-1 visa with form I-129 if the treaty trader is physically outside the US. In order to apply for the E-1 visa from abroad, the following steps must be followed:
- Fill out Form DS-160 online;
- While the form is being filled out, you must submit a photo that meets the requirements;
- Pay the application fee;
- Schedule a visa interview appointment at a US embassy or consulate;
- Gather the necessary documentation for the application;
- Go to the interview with the American embassy or consulate on the scheduled date.
After the E-1 visa is issued, the alien may apply for admission at a US port of entry.
Terms And Conditions Of E-1 Visa Status
A treaty trader or employee of a treaty trader may only work in the activity for which they were approved upon classification. However, the E-1 employee of the treaty trader may work for the treaty organization’s parent company or a subsidiary in these cases:
- There is a relationship between the organizations;
- Subsidiary employment requires essential supervisory or executive skills;
- The terms and conditions of employment have not changed.
USCIS must approve any substantial change, which is a fundamental change in the basic characteristics of the employer. These may be a major merger, event or acquisition that affects the trader’s or treaty employee’s previously approved relationship with the organization.
If a substantial change occurs and the treaty trader or business wants to continue employing the E-1 nonimmigrant, they must notify USCIS. You will do this by filing a new Form I-129. In addition, an extension of stay may be simultaneously requested for the affected trader or employee.
Note: Petitions must include evidence showing that the affected treaty trader or employee of the treaty trader continues to qualify for E-1 status. If an employer is no longer hiring an E-1 nonimmigrant, they must report it to USCIS immediately upon termination of employment. Non-substantial changes do not need to be reported to USCIS.
Documents Required To Apply For The E-1 Visa
There are several documents needed to apply for the E-1 visa, below we will show you the types of documentation required by sections:
- Valid passport for travel to the US It must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of stay in the country;
- Confirmation page of the DS-160 form. It has to be printed and show its respective code;
- Photography. The photo must be recent (less than 6 months) in color and with a white background of 5 x 5 cm in its dimensions;
- Include the DS-156E application. Form DS-156E (PDF) must be answered in its entirety ;
- For first time requests. Evidence of the marital status of the main applicant must be included or evidence that demonstrates the relationship between the main applicant and any of his dependents (for example, the marriage certificate);
- If you changed status or extension of status. Copies of all documents for the change or extension of status must be included;
- For applicants with a representative attorney. They must include forms G-28 or G-28I (Notice to Appear as Attorney or Authorized Representative), signed by the principal applicant and her attorney.
Note: It is not a legal requirement to hire the services of an attorney to apply for the E-1 visa, although it is highly recommended. Nevertheless, the G-28 form is necessary so that the US consulate can communicate with the representatives of the applicant for E-1 status (when they have one).
Applicants for the E-1 classification must include a letter describing the company and business. This letter must address all eligibility requirements for the E-1 visa. These are outlined in the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual ( FAM ). The letter must show that:
- The company is currently operating;
- Such commercial activity is constant and significant;
- The treaty occurs primarily between the US and a treaty country;
- If the applicant is an employee of the enterprise, they must meet the skills and characteristics to fill the position of supervisor, executive or essential employee;
- Include another letter or statement signed by the primary applicant indicating that they intend to leave the US once their E-1 status ends.
Remember that your intention at all times is to leave the US if you enter in this status. If you stay beyond what is allowed, take the consequences of unlawful presence in the US.
Ownership Documentation And Structure Of The Company
Evidence of nationality (at least 50%), percentages of ownership and control of the enterprise must be included:
- For corporations: Certificates of ownership, articles of incorporation, registration of the sale of shares or certificates from the secretary of state.
- For private companies: Statutes of the organization, property registration or formation of the company.
Documentation For Subsidiary Companies And Others
If the company has subsidiaries, multiple owners, or the chain of ownership includes intermediaries, you must include:
- Organizational chart showing the ownership structure of the company;
- Legal evidence of the business constitution (shares and rights) where the names and percentage of ownership and shares are indicated;
- Copies of the biographical data pages of the passports of each of the owners;
- In case the business is an entity incorporated outside of the US, an organizational chart of its ownership structure and a certificate of registration of where the business is incorporated must be submitted.
- Curriculum vitae;
- Company organization chart, showing:
- Your position within the company;
- Direct Reports;
- Identification to be replaced (if applicable).
- If the visa is requested as an employee with executive or supervisory responsibilities, evidence must be included that demonstrates that they meet all the necessary requirements or skills.
- If you apply for the visa as an essential employee, you must provide evidence that you have essential skills that the company needs as a priority;
- Also, explain why a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident cannot fill the position.
Evidence Of Trade In The US
You must include all possible evidence that demonstrates that the commercial activity is substantial and that 50% of the activities are carried out with the US. The applicant must submit a report or spreadsheet listing the international transactions of the last 12 months.
It must include:
- The last 12 months of records or statements of the company’s bank accounts;
- The last 3 years of the financial statements;
- Most recent federal tax reports for the company in the US and for the applicant (if the applicant has previously worked in the United States).
What Is The E-1 Visa For A Canadian National?
The documentary exemption for Canadian nationals under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) does not apply for the E-1 visa or the E-2 visa.
Unlike TN, B-1, B-2 and L-1 visas, Canadian citizens have to apply for an E-1 visa at a US consulate. If a Canadian citizen is in the US and seeks to change her status to E-1 or E-2, she may experience delays in the event that she needs to leave the US and be readmitted under a E-1 or E-2 visa.
Under this scenario, if the Canadian citizen left the US, they must obtain a visa from a US consulate before applying for readmission to the US under E-1 or E-2 status.
Note: The application process for an E-1 visa for a Canadian citizen is similar to the one explained in this article. All information related to the application must be gathered and the required documents sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . You can get more information on the website of the US embassy and consulate in Canada.
Canadian production companies that sell motion pictures or television productions to US companies may face some difficulties when sending their staff to the US. This problem frequently arises when the Canadian production is scheduled to be made in the US.
Canadian companies often focus on traditional US work permit categories such as the O visa. However, the O visa is relatively complex to use and many aliens do not meet the eligibility requirements for it.
The E-1 category is a viable alternative to the O-1B and O-2 categories, even though this visa is often overlooked by Canadian production companies. For this reason, this visa should always be considered before other more complex work permit categories.
How Long Can You Stay In The United States With An E-1 Visa?
- Both qualified treaty traders and their employees have a maximum initial stay of 2 years in the US.
- Applications for changes of status or extensions of stay may be granted in increments of up to 2 years each.
- The number of extensions that can be granted to an alien with an E-1 visa is unlimited. However, all nonimmigrants under this visa must maintain the intent to depart the United States once their visa expires or ends.
Generally, when an E-1 nonimmigrant travels abroad, they are granted an automatic 2-year period of readmission when they return to the US as long as they remain admissible by a US Customs and Border Protection officer (CBP).
How Long Does It Take To Get An E-1 Visa?
The processing time to obtain an E-1 visa varies, but generally takes a few months. Applicants can check their petition status through the USCIS online case status tool .
In addition, if you wish, you can shorten the processing time of this visa through the Form I-907 , application for premium processing.
Can Family Members Accompany E-1 Visa Holders?
Both treaty traders and their employees may be accompanied by their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. However, please note the following:
- Their nationalities don’t need to be the same as those of the treaty traders or their employees;
- If their application is approved, they will generally receive the same length of stay as the employee;
- If they are already in the US, they can apply for a change of status or extension using Form I-539, Application for Extension or Change of Nonimmigrant Status;
- Spouses of E-1 workers in E-1 or E-1S status are considered authorized to work based on their visa;
- Spouses of employees of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (TECO), must apply for employment authorization.
Evidence Issued By DHS To Dependents
Evidence issued by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of employment authorization is acceptable for completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Such information includes the following:
- An updated Form I-94, current arrival/departure record reflecting E-1S nonimmigrant status;
- Beginning in January 2022, USCIS and CBP issue I-94s with a new intake code (E-1S) for some spouses of E-1 workers;
- A current I-94 form with the new code is acceptable as evidence of employment authorization;
- An updated current Form I-94 reflecting E-1 status along with a USCIS notification of the new admission code;
- USCIS sends a notice serving as employment authorization to E spouses who have an I-94 issued before January 30, 2022 under E-1 status and who have employment authorization dependent on their status;
- A current Employment Authorization Document (EAD);
- E spouses with an EAD dependent on their status are not required to file an I-765, but may file one for evidence of identity and employment authorization;
- An expired EAD with additional documentation to show that the EAD has been automatically extended.
Some E-1 spouses qualify for the automatic extension of their EAD if they properly filed an I-765 renewal application and have a current I-94 reflecting their E-1 or E-1S status.
Automatic Extension Of The EAD
Generally, DHS grants an automatic extension period of up to 180 days from the expiration date shown on the EAD. However, beginning May 4, 2022, DHS has temporarily increased the automatic extension period, giving renewal applicants up to an additional 360 days for a total of 540 days.
The automatic extension of the EAD will continue until the first happens:
- The expiration date of the dependent spouse’s I-94;
- Date the EAD renewal application was approved or denied;
- 540 days have passed since the date shown on the “Card Expires” in front of the EAD.
Information To Keep In Mind
Eligible “E” spouses may submit employers with the following documents that demonstrate the automatic EAD extension:
- Form I-94 showing current E-1 or E-1S status;
- Form I-797C on the application for renewal of the EAD where it is reflected as “selected class” (a) (17);
- The EAD that expired under the same category A17.
Family members must take into account the period of stay granted in E status and request an extension of stay before its validity expires.
Procedure From An E-1 Visa To a Green Card
There is no direct way to obtain a Green Card through an E-1 visa. This is because the E-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa and therefore, a temporary visa. In addition, the applicant must intend to return to their country of origin once their visa expires.
However, there are other methods by which you can achieve legal permanent residence. An example is if you find a job whose employer is willing to sponsor your stay, you can later change your status to an H-1B visa and then apply for the Green Card.
If you have relatives in the US, you may be eligible for US family based immigration.
Frequently Asked Questions About The E-1 Visa
The application fee for the E-1 visa is $205. On the other hand, filing for Form I-129 is $460, so the total cost is $665. However, if the I-907 form is filed to expedite the processing time, it would have an additional cost of $2,500.
The E-1 visa does not guarantee your entry to the US, since the CBP officers always have the last word on this matter.
If your E-1 visa application is denied you have to apply for a new one after several months or even years. In theory, there is no waiting period for the next filing, but in these cases it is best to contact an immigration attorney.
The E-1 visa can be denied if you do not submit the necessary documents to be eligible. In addition, having committed certain immigration crimes or past offenses may affect your eligibility.
What Can Our Los Angeles E-1 Visa Attorneys Do For You?
Applying for a visa is never an easy task, the slightest mistake can lead to its denial. Being denied a visa can be frustrating as you will lose time, your dreams of entering the US and your money as the fees to apply for a visa are non-refundable.
To avoid facing these possible scenarios, please contact our office. We have the prestige of 50 years of combined experience assisting aliens to obtain all types of visas. Don’t hesitate to count on a team of professionals to obtain your treaty trader visa.
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