U.S. E-1 and E-2 Treaty Visas instead of H-1B and L-1 visas

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There are continuing concerns about the difficulties in obtaining L-1B intracompany transfer visas for specialized knowledge level employees. It has been difficult at times to be able to meet the requirements for the L-1B because of uncertainties about what actually qualifies as a specialized knowledge level employee. Another popular type of visa the H-1B non-immigrant visa for graduate level specialty workers run out almost as soon as they become available at the beginning of April each year. It is therefore important to consider alternatives.

Increasingly both employers and employees wishing to work in the US are looking at the E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visas. There is no visa quota and the visas may in many cases be easier to obtain than L-1B visas and H-1B visas. You can apply for entry as an investor or as an employee.

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

The E-1 is a non-immigrant visa which allows entry to the US on a temporary basis.

Like the E-2 Treaty Investor visa, the E-1 visa is only for citizens of certain countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. The employer also needs to be registered as an E-1 Treaty Trader business first before you can apply for entry as an E-1 employee or E-2 Treaty Investor business for entry as an E-2 employee.

The E-1 Treaty employer must be at least 50% owned by nationals of the treaty Country. More than 50% of trade done by the E-1 Treaty Trader company must be between the treaty country and the United States. You must be an executive or supervisor or have specialist skills/qualifications to apply as an employee.

E-1 visa applications can be decided in a matter of weeks and allows entry for a period of up to two years. The visa can be renewed for two years at a time; as long as the treaty company continues to be registered there is no limit on the number of two year visas you can apply for. This is an advantage of the E-1 visa over a L-1 visa, which only allows entry of 5 years under the L-1B visa category or 7 years as an L-1A manager or executive.

The employee does not have to have worked for the same company outside of the US for at least one year prior to applying for an E-1 visa, unlike with a L-1 visa. However, the employee must be the "same" nationality as the E-1 treaty employer.

Moving to a Green Card from an E-1 Visa

This may be possible. However, you will need to meet the requirements of a particular permanent residence category. Perhaps employment based or based on investment. Employment based immigration can take years of processing time and is typically quite difficult. The EB-5 immigrant investor scheme requires an investment of at least half a million dollars and creation of employment for at least ten people.

Family Members of E-1 Treaty Trader employee

The spouse of an E-1 visa holder may legally work in the U.S. once given dependent E-1 status and work authorisation. Children may go to school. Dependents children will have to come under a different type of visa category if they wish to remain in the US once they are 21 years of age or older.

The approval rate of E-1 visas is quite high with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) granting 80% of E-1 visa applications in 2010.

Workpermit.com can help with L-1, E-1, E-2 visas and other types of US visas

For more information, or to find out if you are eligible for an US work visa contact WorkPermit.com on 0344 991 9222.