E-1 Visas for Treaty Traders & Employees
The immigration regulations provide that an individual can qualify as an E-1 Treaty Trader either as the principal or as the employee of a foreign individual/organization engaged in trade principally between the United States and the treaty country of which the alien is a national.
An individual seeking classification as an E-1 principal must be a national of a country with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. See the current list here.
Principal trade is when over 50% of the volume of international trade is conducted between the US and the treaty country of the principal. Items of trade can include:
- International banking
- Technology and its transfer;
- Some news-gathering activities.
Although monetary value of the transactions is an important factor, there is no minimum requirement for the monetary value/volume of an individual transaction. There should be a continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time.
To qualify as an employee of a treaty trader, the requirements of nationality are the same as for the principal. If the principal employer is not an individual, the enterprise or organization must be at least 50% owned by individuals who have the nationality of the treaty country. The Employee must be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory nature or if employed in a lower position, must have special qualifications, i.e., skills that make the employee essential to the efficient operation of the business.
If approved, the treaty trader or employee can be granted an initial stay of up to two (2) years. Extensions can be issued in two (2) year increments, without limit. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may be granted dependent status. E-1 spouses may apply for work authorization.