E1 Visa for Treaty Trader

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With an E-1 Treaty Trader visa, non-U.S. nationals can enter the United States. However, they must be an owner or qualifying employee of an eligible non-U.S. business coming here to conduct substantial international trade.

As an E-1 treaty trader or employee, their visa only permits them to perform work approved under the visa conditions, which includes working only for the approved company or its parent company.

The government generally grants E-1 visas for an initial stay of two years. Those who continue to meet the eligibility requirements can apply to extend their stay. They can receive an unlimited number of extensions.

Those on this visa may travel out of the U.S. during this time. Upon reentry, they will automatically receive a two-year extension.

If you want to apply, you will need to provide reliable evidence that you meet all of the E 1 Treaty Trader requirements. The E-1 visa application process can vary in parts between Consular posts.

As such, it’s best to hire an experienced immigration attorney who can help you avoid any issues or delays with your application and help you ensure that you meet all the requirements.

Ready to hire an immigration lawyer to help you with a Visa? Book a consultation on Tina’s calendar. Contact her at 385-396-4599. Or complete the form below and we’ll connect you today.


Requirements for an E1 Visa

Treaty Country

The first requirement is that individual E1 visa applicant(s) must be a national of one of the treaty countries. In other words, a national of a country with a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.

For example, the United Kingdom has a qualifying Treaty in place making it a treaty country, so UK nationals and UK-based companies satisfy the initial visa requirement.

E1 Company

In addition, the business trading within the U.S. must be registered as an E-1 Treaty Trader business with the government.

The U.S. consulate must file the company application simultaneously with the business’s first individual E1 visa application. UK treaty country E-1 company registrations may be valid for as many as five years after the initial employee’s visa application, and they can renew it indefinitely.

To qualify, the business must be owned and controlled at least 50 percent by individuals holding passports from a treaty country. The treaty country also must be engaged in trade with the United States.

Qualifying trade is defined as the existing international exchange of trade items for consideration between the U.S. and the treaty country of the foreign company. Items of treaty country trade can include:

  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology
  • Newsgathering activities

Substantial Trade

Applicants must also have evidence that trade is “substantial.” While there is no set requirement or limit to the amount or value of trade, it must encompass numerous transactions over time.

Trade Must be Between the U.S. and the Treaty Nation

At least 50 percent of the company’s international trade must be between the U.S. and the applicant’s treaty country. For U.K. businesses, this doesn’t include domestic U.K. trade. Applicants should use the entire year preceding their application to calculate the percentage.

Must-Have Intentions to Leave the United States

The E1 visa is a non-immigrant visa. This means that applicants will be required to leave the U.S. upon their visa expiry. Unfortunately, the E1 visa isn’t a path to U.S. permanent residency.

Considering this requirement, your application must show your intention to leave the U.S. at some point by evidencing you have ‘sufficient ties’ to your home country. Examples of this evidence can be:

  • Proof of mortgage statements
  • Employment-related documents
  • Details about your family or personal life that show you will maintain ties in your country


You should also note that you will only have the option to apply to extend your E-1 visa if you continue to meet all of these E1 visa requirements.

E-1 Supporting Documents

A visa applicant must show evidence that they satisfy the E-1 visa requirements. The specific type of documents usually depends on the stipulations of the Consular post where you will file your application. However, they may include the following:

  • Descriptions of the qualifying goods or services
  • Documents identifying qualifying transactions with the U.S., for instance, copies of shipping invoices
  • Calculations of the company’s percentage of documented international trade with the U.S.

E1 Employee Requirements

If applying for the E-1 visa as an employee of an E-1 business, you must also prove the following facts:

  • You are a national of the same treaty country as your E-1 employer and E-1 company
  • You hold an executive, managerial or supervisory role that requires specialist skills or knowledge
  • Your employer is either in the U.S. under a valid E1 visa or outside the U.S. but meets the E-1 requirements
  • You intend to return to your country of residence after completing your work in the U.S. and before visa expiry.
  • Evidence of your residence in the U.K. if you are a British national


While the E-1 company registration is valid, employees can apply for E-1 status to support trading activities in the U.S. They may apply for E-1 status at the consular post where the E-1 registration application was filed without submitting additional documents substantiating the foreign company’s U.S. trading activities.

Can Dependents Apply Under the E-1 Visa?

E-1 visa holders are permitted to bring dependents – defined as spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age. Under immigration laws, as E-1 dependents, spouses can apply for work authorization in the U.S. However, children cannot.

Dependent visa applications may be made during the E-1 employee’s interview or by scheduling a separate interview at a U.S. consular post after receiving approval of the E-1 employee’s visa application.

The E-1 Visa Application Process

Suppose you are applying already within the U.S. In that case, the law requires you to file Form I-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, if you will be engaged directly in international trade. However, suppose you will be working for an entity engaged in international trade as a supervisor, manager, or executive. In that case, the company must file Form I-129.

You are also required to submit filing fees and other documents proving your nationality, trade relationship, and intent to return to your home country. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes your request and sends you their response.

If USCIS grants your request, they will provide you or your employer with a Form I-797, Approval Notice.

If you are currently located outside of the U.S., you must apply through a U.S. Embassy in your home country. Unfortunately, applying from outside the U.S. is a lengthier procedure involving the following steps:

Ready to hire an immigration lawyer to help you with a Visa? Book a consultation on Tina’s calendar. Contact her at 385-396-4599. Or complete the form below and we’ll connect you today.


File Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application

Complete the necessary information and save the confirmation page, which you will need later on for your documentation

Pay the E1 visa application fee of $205— you might have to pay additional fees, such as visa issuance or reciprocity fees, depending on your country of origin.

Schedule Your Visa Interview

Scheduling your interview as soon as possible can help prevent long waits due to the high workload of the U.S. Embassy. All visa applicants over 13 and under 80 years old must interview with a U.S. Embassy official.

When scheduling your interview, you will receive a visa appointment letter, which you must bring to the interview.

Collect the Required Documents

You’ll need to collect and save several documents to bring with you on the interview, including the following:

  • Your valid passport
  • Documents that prove the nationality of the company and that it belongs to a treaty trade country (if you are an employee of a company)
  • A picture that meets U.S. Visa Photo Requirements to be submitted with the DS-160 form
  • Your form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Completed Form DS-156E, Treaty or Trader Investor Application
  • Receipts proving you paid the necessary fees
  • Your visa appointment letter
  • A letter from your employer detailing your position and how you are an essential international trade employee
  • Letters or documents which prove you or the company you work for have substantial trade with the U.S.
  • Evidence of your intentions to return to your home country, such as owned property deeds, apartment lease, or other essential documents.

Attend Your Scheduled Interview

During the interview, a U.S. Embassy official will ask several questions about your character and the reasons for your visit to the U.S. They will also try to determine whether you intend to return to your home country.

If they suspect you plan to stay in the U.S. permanently, your visa status could be at risk.

Ready to hire an immigration lawyer to help you with a Visa? Book a consultation on Tina’s calendar. Contact her at 385-396-4599. Or complete the form below and we’ll connect you today.


Tina Ghomashchian is a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of TZG Law. Tina is originally from the United Kingdom where she graduated from one of the U.K.’s top law schools – Dundee University Law school. Upon graduation Tina immigrated to the United States where she worked in the fields of civil litigation and immigration before starting TZG Law. Tina has a passion for humanitarian work and wants to incorporate her passion into her law firm through helping immigrants achieve legal status at affordable costs. She has successfully helped 20,000 people receive visas.

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