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E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

E-1 Visa, Treaty Traders

Over the years, the U.S. has entered into treaties with foreign countries for both commerce and navigation. Currently, for E-1 non-immigrant visa purposes 54 of these treaties exist. Some have been in existence since 1815 and as recent as 2004. The treaties were implemented to foster and facilitate more trade between the participating countries. These visas can be processed through the U.S. (if the applicant is in the U.S.) with premium processing, if necessary, or through the home country U.S. Embassy or Consulate (if the applicant is abroad) without premium processing and can become complicated to properly petition. Employment of an attorney well versed in business is advised as business formation, business purchase, investment strategies and income tax consequences may be involved.

Eligible Employers and Individual Treaty Traders

Treaty traders must be a foreign national or foreign business entity, such as a foreign corporation, of the foreign treaty trading partner that carry on "substantial trade" which is their "principle trade" with the U.S. "Substantial trade" means a sizable and continuous volume of trade involving numerous transactions over time and "principle trade" means over 50% of the volume of trade is with the U.S. And, trade means the transfer of ownership. Trade is often includes; goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, technology, tourism and news gathering.

Eligible Employees & Family Members

Treaty trader employees, individual treaty traders and family members must be:

  • Of the same nationality as the treaty trading country partner,
  • Executives, managers or specialists of the foreign treaty trader
  • Foreign national entering the U.S. to carry out substantial trade, or
  • Key personnel sent to manage the U.S. affiliate or branch,
  • Key personnel sent to set up the U.S. company,
  • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of the E-1 visa holder,
  • Intend on returning to their home country when the treaty trading purpose is completed. However, they need not maintain their foreign home.

Submission Process From the U.S.

The employer, for its employees or the individual foreign treaty trader should submit a USCIS Form I-129 and E supplement, with all accompanying documentation and pay all required filing fees plus a possible premium processing fee. Processing time generally takes between 4 and 6 months. All family members already in the U.S. should file one USCIS Form I-539, all accompanying documentation and pay all required filing fees. Their nationality need not be from the foreign treaty trading partner.

Submission Process From Outside the U.S.

To apply, the treaty trader employee or individual treaty trader will need passport size photographs, his/her passport valid for 6 months beyond the intended period of stay, Forms DS-160 & DS-156E obtainable at any home country U.S. Embassy or Consulate and the nonrefundable visa processing fee. Some U.S. Embassies and Consulates have special rules about what days you can enter, entry procedures and entry fees. So, check with your home country U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A visa issuance fee will also be owing upon approval.

Visa Period of Stay

The E-1 visa will be valid for up to 2 years and automatically renewed for another 2 year period each time the individual trader or employee travels outside the U.S. There is no maximum number of permitted extensions. However they must intend to depart the U.S. when the treaty trading is completed.

Charleston USA Immigration Law Center Attorneys are familiar with the processing of these visas. Speak with one to understand this procedure.

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