Immigration Center of
Ekaterina Mouratova, PA

E-1 visa for entrepreneurs engaged in foreign trade

For citizens of countries that have a treaty of navigation and commerce with the United States, one strategy is seeing growth in popularity for obtaining a visa to live and work in the U.S. The E-1 Treaty Traders visa program was created to help encourage and foster international economic activity and trade between treaty countries.  More and more nationals of treaty countries are now using this program, bringing benefit to global economic activity.

The E-1 Treaty Traders visa is not especially hard to obtain so long as the requirements are met - for good reason as it presents a win-win scenario for both sides. E-1 visa holders and their families can work, live, and go to school in the U.S. for a potentially indefinite length of time while simultaneously bringing with them capital, expertise, and valuable international economic activity beneficial to the U.S.

E-1 visas are part of a category of visas, including its sister program, the E-2 Treaty Investor visa, that are intended to nurture and foster economic ties between the U.S. and the large number (currently about 30) of countries that share a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. While fairly simple and straightforward to apply for, it is nonetheless recommended that individuals interested in obtaining an E-1 visa for themselves and their families consult an immigration lawyer to fully understand their options and to facilitate a smooth visa application process. 

Several of the basic requirements for obtaining an E-1 Treaty Traders visa are outlined below in answers to several of the most important questions that potential applicants may have:

What type of company and employee is eligible?

The key thing to remember regarding the E-1 visa is that the owners of the business entity in the U.S. as well as the employee applying for the visa must both be members of countries that fall under a treaty of navigation and commerce with the U.S. 

If the enterprise conducting business in the U.S. consists of over 50% owned by members of a treaty country, then that firm's vital employees (such as managers, supervisors, executives, or employees with specialized expertise deemed crucial to the good functioning of the business) or the owners of the entity are eligible to obtain an E-1 visa. Things can become more complicated when ownership of the U.S. business entity is not quite as clear, such as scenarios involving complex corporate ownership. Retaining the services of or consulting an immigration attorney is especially recommended for these types of situations.

What type and amount of business activity meet the "substantial trade" requirement to qualify for the E-1 visa?

Almost any type of business, from export and import to insurance, journalism, technology, tourism and banking services, can meet the E-1 visa requirements. 

For the E-1 program, the dollar amount of international business transactions isn't emphasized as much as the overall volume of the transactions. This means smaller firms or even individual entrepreneurs can qualify. Another key fact to consider is that to qualify for the E-1 visa, the majority of international trade must be between the U.S. and the treaty country. 

Again, it is highly recommended to seek out consultation from an immigration lawyer or immigration attorney for more comprehensive information on not only what types and proportions of business and trade are necessary for the visa, but also any additional details regarding eligibility requirements as well as advice during the application process.



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