Immigration Law Firm

Treaty Trader Visa (E-1)

Treaty Trader Visa (E-1): The E-1 nonimmigrant visa allows foreign nationals who are citizens of certain treaty countries to enter the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf or on the behalf of a qualifying business.

General Requirements:

  • The individual trader must possess the nationality of the treaty company, and the principal trade must be between the United States and the trader’s treaty country. Principal trade between the two countries exists when over 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the United States and the treaty country.
  • The trader must be engaged in substantial trade, which generally entails the continuous flow of sizable international trade items involving numerous transactions over time.
  • There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction to establish substantial trade. Greater weight is given to the number of transactions over the value of any single transaction.
  • Items of trade may include, but are not limited to, the following types of international exchanges: goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, technology and its transfer, and certain news-gathering activities.
  • Certain executive or supervisory employees of principal E-1 enterprises or organizations may be eligible to obtain E-1 visas if the treaty trader entity is at least 50% owned by nationals of the treaty country.

Derivative Benefits and Time Limitations:

  • The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany the principal E-1 visa holder to the United States. The derivative spouse of an E-1 visa holder may apply for employment authorization with USCIS. If the work authorization is approved, there are no restrictions on where he or she may work.
  • Treaty traders are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extensions may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 visa holder may receive. After their initial admission, treaty traders are generally readmitted to the United States for two years, regardless of the expiration date on their visa, if the visa is valid at the time or readmission.
  • The E-1 visa does not allow dual immigrant intent. Thus, treaty traders must maintain intent to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

Procedure:

  • If the individual is outside of the United States, he or she may apply directly for an E-1 visa at the appropriate consulate abroad. There is no need for a previously approved petition from USCIS.
  • If the individual is already within the United States in another lawful nonimmigrant status, he or she may petition USCIS for a change of status to E-1.
  • USCIS must be notified of any substantive change in the nature of an E-1 business.

Example:

A Turkish national runs a large scale vehicle import business in Turkey. The business purchases vehicles in the United States and ships them to Turkey in international trade. After establishing all regulatory requirements, the business owner successfully applies for an E-1 visa at the Consulate in Ankara. He then enters the United States to oversee the procurement of vehicles for his company.

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