The E1 Treaty Trader is a “non-immigrant” visa for traders of qualifying Treaty countries who undertake a significant amount of international trade with the United States. Some employees of such traders or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification. The United States signed the Treaty with 78 countries, allowing foreign investors to obtain E-1 (Treaty Trader) or E-2 (Treaty Investor) visas.
The E-1 visa is structured for business owners and managers, or employees who are required to stay in the U.S. for large periods to work for an enterprise that is engaged in trade (import/export) with the United States. If the treaty trader is currently in the United States in a lawful non-immigrant status, he or she may file Form I-129 to request a change of status to E-1 classification.
If not supported by adequate documentation, an E-1 petition may be denied. An appeals lawyer may be able to reopen the case and get an approval.
There is no set minimum level of trade which is considered sufficient, but, the trade should involve a constant flow of commercial units, through numerous operations over time. In fact, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines “commerce” as the International sale of goods, which produces a large volume of business between the U.S. and a treaty country.
The E-1 is a non-immigrant Visa and does not create a path for U.S. Citizenship. It is generally granted for an initial period of admission of 5 years (2 years in case of a change of status obtained in the U.S.). There is no limit to the number of extensions an E-1 Visa holder may be granted, as long as his or her business is active and the trade remains substantial.
Further, E1 Treaty Trader Visa holders must abide the conditions of their visa. If they fail to do so, they may be subject to deportation proceedings.
Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied by their dependents (spouse and unmarried children who under 21 years of age). Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee. Dependents are generally granted the same period of stay as the employee. The spouse may also apply for unrestricted work authorization, submitting Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), with USCIS. Children can only attend schools.