The E-1 visa permits an individual and/or certain employees of a qualifying entity to enter the U.S. to carry on substantial trade (including trade in services or trade in technology), principally between the U.S. and the country of which they are nationals or citizens. This Treaty Trader Visa requires you to engage with a U.S. business, typically a corporation, that is owned 50% by a foreign national. You must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country.
● You must be a citizen of a treaty country;
● The trading firm for which you plan to come to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise;
● The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade;
● More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country;
● Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other; and
● You must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.
The E-1 visa is tricky because you can apply for it inside the U.S. directly with USCIS, or you can apply directly to a U.S. Consulate in your home country. Be advised this can be confusing and result in a waste of time and money if you do not plan properly.
The requirements for an E-1 visa allow attorneys to consult with clients well in advance of the filing to develop the business plan, gather evidence, and strategize on how and when to file the case. This visa requires the help of an attorney far ahead of any submittal to hash out a plan for how the owners, employees, and U.S. staff will be properly hired, vetted, and paid. While these visas are complex, they are normally approved when the business activities are visible and well documented.
Both E1 and E2 visas can be obtained for owners and employees of E qualifying companies. Talk to an attorney to review the E employee qualifications.