1. Q: What is E1 visa?
A: The E-1 treaty trader visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals of a treaty nation to enter into the U.S. and carry out substantial trade. A treaty trader belongs to a nation that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation or a bilateral agreement with the U.S.
Note: Trade includes commercial transactions in goods and trade in services and technology like banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, technology transfer and other measurable services which may be traded.
2. Q: How do I qualify for E1 visa?
A: You may qualify for E-1 visa if:
• You are an executive, manager or specialist in a treaty nation company operating in the U.S., or you own 50 % of the company
• The nationals of your country own at least 50 % of the stock of the company, i.e., the firm has the nationality of the treaty country
• You are a citizen of a treaty trade country, and are involved in international trade
• You are the immediate family members of a principle E-1 visa holder
The following countries have trade treaties with the United States which allow for conferral of E-1 (treaty-trader status) to the nationals of said countries:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark,
Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras,
Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy,
Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of (FRY), Mexico, Montenegro,
Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland,
Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland,
Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia
3. Q: What privileges do I enjoy on E-1 visa?
A: On E-1 visa, you may:
• Work legally in the U.S. for a U.S. company where more than 50 % of the business is trade between the U.S. and your home country
• Travel freely in and out of the U.S.
• Stay in the U.S. on a prolonged basis with unlimited two year extensions as long as you maintain E-1 qualifications
• Bring your dependents to the U.S. Your spouse can also work in the U.S.
4. Q: What are the limitations of E-1 visa?
A: The limitations of E-1 visa are:
• You are restricted to working only for the specific employer or self-owned business that acted as your E-1 visa sponsor
• Visas are available only to foreign nationals of countries having trade treaties with the U.S.
• Authorized stay is granted for two years at a time which makes the application or extension process cumbersome
5. Q: How long can I stay in the U.S. on E-1 visa?
A: You may stay in the U.S. on a prolonged basis with unlimited five year visa extensions or two year status extensions as long as you maintain E-1 qualifications. You may apply for unlimited extensions as long as you are qualified for an E-1 visa.
6. Q: Can I change status while on E-1 visa?
A: Yes, you may apply for change of status while on E-1 visa.
7. Q: Can I bring my dependents on E-1 visa?
A: Yes, you may bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 years to stay along with you. They may stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your E-1 status.
8. Q: Can my dependents work on E-1 visa?
A: Yes, your spouse may seek employment by applying for Employment Authorization. However, your children are not allowed to work.
9. Q: Can my dependents study on E-1 visa?
A: Yes, your dependents may attend U.S. schools, colleges and universities on E visa, and do not have to apply for separate student visa such as an F-1 visa.
10. Q: Where should I file my E-1 visa application?
A: If you are in a lawful status in the U.S., submit the visa application to a USCIS Service Center office in the U.S.
If you are outside the U.S., submit the visa application to the U.S. consular office in your home country.
11. Q: Must the trading company exist and or the investments be made before the visa is issued?
A: Trade must already be established at the time the E-1 visa application is filed. Investments, however, may be prospective, provided that the funds are irrevocably committed to the investment, contingent only upon the issuance of the visa. Investment funds may come from any country, including the U.S., as long as they are controlled by the investor applicant.
12. Q: What is 'substantial trade'?
A: Substantial trade is that volume sufficient to ensure continuous flow (numerous transactions over time) of international trade between the U.S. and treaty country. There is no value or volume minimum. However, smaller businesses are expected to yield income sufficient to support the treaty trader and his or her family.
13. Q: What is 'principal trade'?
A: When over 50 % of the volume of the treaty trader's international trade is conducted between the U.S. and the country of nationality it is termed as principal trade.