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E1 Visa as Treaty Trader

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Businessmen and their employees who are nationals of E1 Treaty Trader countries and whose business undertakes a significant amount of international trade between their home Country and the United States may qualify for this type of visa. The volume of such trade must be sufficient to provide employment in the US and the trade must constitute the majority of the trader's international trade (i.e. at least 50% of the Trader's exports/imports must be to/from the USA). There is no set minimum level of trade which is considered sufficient, but the level of business should be sufficient to justify employing a number of employees in the US.

E1 Treaty Visa Countries

The following countries have treaties with the United States that allow qualifying nationals to apply for Treaty Trader status:

E1 treaty countries table

China (Taiwan)Korea (South)Spain
Costa RicaLatviaSweden
FinlandMontenegroUnited Kingdom
GermanyNew Zealand 

E1 Treaty trader application advice

Nationals of qualifying countries may apply for an E1 visa in order to 'Develop and Direct' import/export trade (of goods or services) between their own country and the US. They may also apply for E1 visas for key managerial and specialist employees. Unlike for the L1 visa, there is no requirement for such employees to have worked for the overseas employer for at least one year in the last three years.

E1 visa registration applications center on the volume of trade between the USA and the Treaty country. The prospective Treaty Trader must demonstrate that:

  • There will be a substantial number of trade transactions between the US and the treaty country.

  • There will be a substantial dollar value to the trade between the US and the treaty country.

  • The majority of international (i.e. not including transactions within the Treaty country or within the US) trade transactions undertaken by the applicant (have been and) will be between the US and the treaty country.

  • The majority of the dollar value of trade (has been and) will be between the US and the treaty country.

  • The trader (or his/her employees seeking E-1 visas) has sufficient business acumen and experience to develop and direct the trade.

  • The trader, and any other E-1 staff, are able and willing to leave the US upon termination of their E-1 status.

  • The trader has a past history of conducting trade between the US and the treaty country.

E-1 Treaty Trader visa application process

  • You contact us.

  • considers looks at your proposed new business venture. If your company, is eligible for registration as an E-1 Treaty Trader business, we e-mail to you:

    • A formal instruction form to return

    • Details of any additional data required, and confirmation of which documents we need

  • You provide documents usually in electronic format for the application.

  • complies your application and submits it to the Treaty Visa section at the appropriate US consulate – processing takes 4-6 weeks

  • After registration as an E-1 Treaty Trader, visas can be obtained for investors, employees and dependants in 10 to 15 working days. You provide us with relevant information and we prepare and submit the application to the E-1 and E-2 Treaty Visa section.

E-1 and E-2 Visa Employees

Once the principal applicant has obtained registration as a Treaty Investor or Trader, you can quickly obtain E-1 or E-2 visas for qualifying employees. Obtaining the registration usually takes 4 to 6 weeks, and obtaining subsequent employee visas usually takes 10 to 15 working days.

Two types of employee qualify for E visas:-

Executives & Managers:

Executives and Managers should be going to develop and direct the trade or investment of the principal investor/trader in the USA. Such personnel should be able to demonstrate their executive or managerial pedigree, though there is no requirement that they have worked for the principal trader or investor for at least one year, as there is with the L1 visa. Generally a resume and supporting letter from the principal is all the evidence required.

Specialist or Essential Skilled Workers:

Visas for this type of employee are more difficult to obtain. You must demonstrate that:

  • A US resident worker could not fill the position;

  • The employment of the treaty national is necessary for the running of the principal trader or investor's business in the USA;

  • US workers will be trained to replace the treaty national (details of the proposed training must be given).

If the above criteria are met then an E-1 visa can be obtained, but is more difficult to renew than an Executive/Managerial E-1 visa.

Note that, a 'visa issuance fee' is often required in addition to the usual visa application fee for E visas. This usually amounts to $100-200. Also E-1 visa employees must be of the same nationality as the principal investor.

Spouses and dependents of E-1 visa workers are also issued E-1 visas. Spouses are allowed to work.  However it may be advisable to apply for work authorisation. Children can study but unfortunately are not allowed to work under the E-1 Treaty Trader visa category.

Further information, help, and advice's team of specialists has over 25 years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the US. All applications for US visas are dealt with in-house by a US qualified lawyer who is also typically a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

For more information and advice on US immigration law and US visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at