E-1 Treaty Trader

E-1 Treaty Trader

global experience

If you are a businessperson from a qualifying treaty country, and you plan to either engage in substantial trade with the U.S. or work for a company that does, then an E-1 Treaty Trader visa may serve you well for a number of years.

Who may qualify for an E-1 visa?

Applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for an E-1 Treaty Trader visa.

  • The applicant must be a national of a treaty country.
  • At least 50% of the trading firm where the E-1 applicant will work must be owned by citizens of the treaty country. The trading firm may be owned by the visa applicant or by other individuals.
  • The trading firm must engage in trade, meaning the international exchange of goods, services, and technology.
  • The volume and dollar value of trade must be so substantial as to justify the trader or his/her employees being in the U.S. to manage the trade.
  • At least 50% of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant's nationality.
  • The applicant may be the Treaty Trader himself/herself, or be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to operation of the firm. Unfortunately, ordinary skilled workers do not qualify.

Benefits of an E-1 Visa

  • E-1 visas can initially be granted for up to two years, during which time the holder may travel freely in and out of the U.S.
  • An E-1 visa can be renewed in two-year increments an unlimited number of times. This can allow the Treaty Trader to remain in the U.S. for a prolonged period to ensure the continued success of the business.
  • An E-1 holder who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the U.S.
  • An E-1 holder will receive authorization to work legally in the United States for the trading firm.
  • Unlike the L-1 visa, there is no requirement for qualified employees to have worked for the Trader for at least one year previously.
  • Visas are available for an E-1 applicant's accompanying spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age). The applicant's spouse may apply for work authorization in the United States without restrictions as to the place of employment. However, the children may not accept employment.

Business Plan is Key

business plan

In our experience the preparation of a business plan that demonstrates how your business clearly meets the requirements of the E visa program is critical. For that reason our Wharton MBA lawyers work with a specialist team of business analysts to prepare business plans that meet the approval of the toughest immigration and consular officers.

How do E-1, E-2, L-1 and EB-5 Visas Differ?

 L-1 VisasE-1 VisasE-2 VisasEB-5 Visas
Visa available to nationals of any country?Nationals of treaty trader countries onlyNationals of treaty trader countries only
Must I have worked for a related company abroad for one year?
Ability of dependent Spouse to work in US
Can the visa be renewed into perpetuity assuming I re-qualify?
Is a business plan a very key element of a successful application?
Minimum investment RequiredSufficient to operate valid foreign business and US office or business entityNo but needs to be a real, viable, businessSufficient to fund business enterprise, generally around USD 100,000.00 although less is possibleEither USD 500,000.00 or USD 1,000,000.00
Immigrant visa status
Can lead to green card after one year

Transition to green card status through EB5 program possible

Transition to green card status through EB5 program possible

visa initially issued for a conditional two year period.

Note: an L-1 visa has the advantage over an E-1 visa of more easily leading to permanent residency (green card). Contrary to popular myth, moving from an E visa to a green card IS possible but is difficult without an immediate US relative or use of the EB-5 program.

List of E-1 Treaty Countries

Click here for a list of countries that have an active E-1 treaty with the United States.


The spouse of minor children of an E1 visa holder can apply for dependent E visa status. With E-1 dependent status the spouse of an E-visa holder may lawfully work in the United States.

Green Card

green card

Although there are options and our firm assists client adjust from E visa status to that of “green card” holder, an E-1 visa does NOT directly lead to permanent residency (also called a “green card”). In fact, an E-1 applicant must have the intent to return to his or her country of origin once the visa expires.

If your goal is to eventually become a permanent resident of the United States, other options may be more suitable for you, such an L-1 visa, or the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

Where to Apply

You can apply to become an E-1 Treaty Trader at a U.S. Consulate abroad, or by filing a petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change status if you are already in the U.S.

Note: Because a change of status does not grant the applicant a new visa, during your next trip abroad, you will need to apply for a visa from a U.S. Consulate in order to reenter the United States with E-1 status.

The E1 Visa Application Process

A consular officer or USCIS will carefully evaluate your application to determine whether you qualify as an E-1 Treaty Trader. It is important to make sure your application is complete and demonstrates your eligibility for E-1 status as clearly and effectively as possible. Securing access to the U.S. for yourself and essential employees should not be left to chance. That is why it is so important to use immigration specialists with years of experience preparing successful E-1 applications.

How Can We Help?

Davies & Associates is a specialized immigration law firm. A substantial part of our practice focuses on assisting business owners and investors with E-1, E-2, L-1 and EB-5 visas. Through our international presence we have specialist knowledge of the specific procedures in multiple embassies and consulates around-the-world. While there can never be any guarantees, in fifteen years we have yet to have any E visa application we have prepared denied.

Please feel free to contact our E-visa team with any additional questions you may have.