E-1 Visa (US Treaty Trader Visa)

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Business owners and essential employees from certain countries that have negotiated a treaty of friendship, navigation and commerce (FNC) with the United States may come to the United States as “treaty traders”, pursuant to an E-1 visa. Both the principal trader and employees must have the same nationality as the treaty entity, which must be at least 50% owned by nationals of the treaty country. Other features of the treaty trader E-1 visa include:

  • Trade constitutes an exchange principally between the United States and the Treaty Country (i.e., >50%), must be international in scope and must be substantial as measured by volume, frequency, and number of transactions.
  • Evidence of qualifying trade may include bills of lading, customer receipts, letters of credit, purchase orders, brochures, insurance papers and contracts.
  • Trade embargo or sanctions result in the suspension of treaty privileges. For example, the US embargo against Cuba prohibits issuance of treaty visas (i.e., either E-1 visa or E-2 visa) for Cuban nationals.

E-1 visa applications are generally filed with a US consulates abroad local to the qualifying company. Senior consular officers are assigned to review these applications because of their complexity. Some consular posts will pre-screen the application, but, as of late, most applicants must attend a personal interview.

Duration of the E1 visa is subject to reciprocity rules, depending on the country of nationality.

Once the initial E1 visa status is granted, the applicant may continue to extend their E1 visa status indefinitely, for as long as he or she continues to direct the commercial enterprise, and as long as the treaty remains in force between the US and the treaty country.

Applicants in the E1 visa category must present extensive documentation detailing the business plan, the scope of the trade, the nature of the capital, and calculation of jobs to be created. A successful E-1 visa application should also ideally demonstrate how the enterprise will benefit the United States.

Ortega-Medina & Associates can help determine whether you or your company are appropriate candidates for the Treaty Trader E-1 visa. If our assessment is positive, our lawyers can assist you in presenting the strongest case possible to the United States Department of State to substantially increase your success in obtaining your visa. Please contact us in all confidence to discuss your case in detail.