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E-1 Treaty Traders

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E-1 Treaty Traders

E-1 Treaty Traders - USCIS

The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification. (For dependent family members, see “Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees” below.)

See U.S. Department of State's Treaty Countries for a current list of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

 

Who May File for Change of Status to E-1 Classification

If the treaty trader is currently in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, he or she may file Form I-129 to request a change of status to E-1 classification. If the desired employee is currently in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, the qualifying employer may file Form I-129 on the employee’s behalf.

 

How to Obtain E-1 Classification if Outside the United States

A request for E-1 classification may not be made on Form I-129 if the person being filed for is physically outside the United States. Interested parties should refer to the U.S. Department of State website for further information about applying for an E-1 nonimmigrant visa abroad. Upon issuance of a visa, the person may then apply to a DHS immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry for admission as an E-1 nonimmigrant.

 

General Qualifications of a Treaty Trader

To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:

Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation

Carry on substantial trade

Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.

 

Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to:

Goods

Services

International banking

Insurance

Transportation

Tourism

Technology and its transfer

Some news-gathering activities.

See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(9) for additional examples and discussion.

Substantial trade generally refers to the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction. While monetary value of transactions is an important factor in considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value. See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(10) for further details.

Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country. See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(11).

 

General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Trader

To qualify for E-1 classification, the employee of a treaty trader must:

Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)

Meet the definition of “employee” under the relevant law

Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

If the principal alien employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country. These owners must be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty trader status. If the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty traders. See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(3)(ii).

Duties which are of an executive or supervisory character are those which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it. See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(17) for a more complete definition.

Special qualifications are skills which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the business. There are several qualities or circumstances which could, depending on the facts, meet this requirement. These include, but are not limited to:

The degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations

Whether others possess the employee’s specific skills

The salary that the special qualifications can command

Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States

 

Knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet this requirement. Note that in some cases a skill that is essential at one point in time may become commonplace, and therefore no longer qualifying, at a later date. See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(18) for a more complete definition.

 

Period of Stay

Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-1 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

An E-1 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States. It is generally not necessary to file a new Form I-129 with USCIS in this situation.

 

Terms and Conditions of E-1 Status

A treaty trader or employee may only work in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the classification was granted. An E-1 employee, however, may also work for the treaty organization’s parent company or one of its subsidiaries as long as the:

Relationship between the organizations is established

Subsidiary employment requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills

Terms and conditions of employment have not otherwise changed.

See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(8)(ii) for details.

USCIS must approve any substantive change in the terms or conditions of E-1 status. A “substantive change” is defined as a fundamental change in the employer’s basic characteristics, such as, but not limited to, a merger, acquisition, or major event which affects the treaty trader or employee’s previously approved relationship with the organization. The treaty trader or enterprise must notify USCIS by filing a new Form I-129 with fee, and may simultaneously request an extension of stay for the treaty trader or affected employee. The petition must include evidence to show that the treaty trader or affected employee continues to qualify for E-1 classification.

It is not required to file a new Form I-129 to notify USCIS about non-substantive changes. A treaty trader or organization may seek advice from USCIS, however, to determine whether a change is considered substantive. To request advice, the treaty trader or organization must file Form I-129 with fee and a complete description of the change.

See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(8) for more information on terms and conditions of E-1 treaty trader status.

A strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage at the intended place of employment may affect a Canadian or Mexican treaty trader or employee’s ability to obtain E-1 status. See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(22) for details.

 

Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees

Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee. These family members may seek E-1 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. If the family members are already in the United States and seeking change of status to or extension of stay in an E-1 dependent classification, they may apply by filing a single Form I-539 with fee. Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-1 spouse may work.

As discussed above, the E-1 treaty trader or employee may travel abroad and will generally be granted an automatic two-year period of admission when returning to the United States. Unless the family members are accompanying the E-1 treaty trader or employee at the time the latter seeks admission to the United States, the new readmission period will not apply to the family members. To remain lawfully in the United States, family members must carefully note the period of stay they have been granted in E-1 status, and apply for an extension of stay before their own validity expires.

Applying for the Visa

Applicants for visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on our website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy websites. Learn how to schedule an appointment for an interview, pay the application processing fee, review embassy specific instructions, and much more by visiting the Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply.

 

During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer.

 

Required Documentation

Each applicant for a treaty trader (E-1) visa must submit these forms and documentation, as explained below.

Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit our DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process.

Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application, Form DS-156E, completed and signed.

A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person must complete a Form DS-160 application.

One (1) 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.

 

What are the Required Visa Fees?

Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee - For current fees for Department of State government services, select Fees. You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.

Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.

 

Additional Documentation

An applicant for a Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa must first establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law, and complies with the many requirements for the E visa classification. The consular officer may provide the applicant with special forms for this purpose. The applicant can expect the consular officer to request additional documentation, to make a determination about eligibility for a treaty trader or treaty investor visa. It is impossible to specify the exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly by applicant.

 

Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the U.S. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas, provides important information about ineligibilities.

 

Visa Ineligibilities and Waivers

Certain activities can make you ineligible for a U.S. visa. The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156 or Online Form DS-160, lists some categories of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable for a certain type of visa, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas provides important information about ineligibilities, by reviewing sections of the law taken from the Immigration and Nationality Act.

 

Visa Denials

If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. For additional information, select Denials. In the absence of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases.

 

U.S. Port of Entry

A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the U.S. port-of entry and request permission to enter the U.S. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the U.S. If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay in the U.S., it’s very important to keep in your passport. In advance of travel, prospective travelers should review important information about Admissions/Entry requirements, as well as information related to restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products or other restricted/prohibited goods explained on the CBP website. Upon arrival (at an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), you will be enrolled in the US-VISIT entry-exit program.

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