US Treaty Trader Visa - Eligibility and Process

The E1 visa, also known as a US Treaty Trader visa, is a non-immigrant visa granted to citizens of certain countries who are engaging in trade between the country they are from, and the United States. This type of visa is not typically used by people looking to start a business in the US. However, it can be beneficial if you already have an established business or if you plan on bringing your family with you.

US Treaty Trader Visa - Eligibility and Process

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1994, investment between Canada and the United States has increased substantially and become much more accessible. The E1 visa, which allows professionals from certain countries to live and work in the US, is one way that businesses can capitalize on this growing market. If you are looking to become an entrepreneur in the US, this treaty trader visa can be a great option for you. Here’s what you need to know about how to apply for an E1 visa and the requirements you need to meet to qualify.

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Those who hold the E1 visa are allowed to work in the US for the company with which they are trading, but cannot change employers without risking their E1 visa status. E1 visa holders are also allowed to study by taking a few courses at a university, but cannot enroll in full time study since they would not be able to engage in the work or trade that the E1 visa requires them to.

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What is a Visa

A visa is a document that entitles the holder to travel, live, work or study in a country. Visas can be issued for various reasons, but most often they are used by people who want to enter a country permanently. There are many types of visas available depending on what the person wants to do while they are in the country. For example, there are tourist visas for those who only want to visit for a short time or student visas that allow you to stay for as long as you attend school.

What is an E1 visa?

An E1 visa is a US treaty trader visa. These visas are granted to citizens of other countries who wish to enter the United States for the purpose of engaging in substantial trade between their country and the US. The main requirement for obtaining an E1 visa is that you must have a business or trade established in your home country. You also need to be employed by this company, own more than 50% of it, or be self-employed. Additionally, you can only stay in the US with this type of visa for up to one year at a time.

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Which Countries Are Considered to Be Part of the E1 Treaty?

The following countries are members of the E1 Treaty:

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On January 24, 2020, the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights that had been in place between Iran and the United States since 1995 came to an end. As a result, Iranian nationals no longer satisfy the requirements to get an E1 visa.

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Who qualifies for an E1 visa?

You may qualify for an E1 visa if you have substantial trade with the US. To qualify, your company must be in a country that has signed a treaty with the US. The treaty is called the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement of 2003. To qualify for this visa, your company must be involved in substantial trade with the US. You or your spouse must also have at least 10% ownership in the company. To qualify, your company must be involved in substantial trade with the US.
You or your spouse must also have at least 10% ownership in the company.
The treaty is called the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement of 2003.
To qualify for this visa, your company must be involved in substantial trade with the US.

Qualify for the E1 Visa?

To be eligible for the E1 visa, there are certain conditions that you must meet. The criteria for this type of visa are as follows:

  • You must be involved in international trade.
  • You must be from a country that has a trade treaty with the US.
  • If you work for a company, at least 50% of it must be owned by people who are citizens of a trade treaty country.
  • You must have a senior position such as a supervisor, manager, or executive.
  • You must be the dependent (spouse or unmarried child under 21 years old) of someone who fulfills the above criteria.

How can I obtain an E1 visa?

Depending on your circumstances, you have two options for applying for an E1 visa:

  • USCIS from within the country
  • from abroad by way of a US Embassy

Inside the US

If you are submitting an application from within the US and you plan to participate in direct international trade, you must submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. The corporation must submit Form I-129 if you will be employed by a person who is involved in foreign trade as a supervisor, manager, or executive.

Along with filing costs, you must provide documentation of your nationality, trade ties, and intention to return home. The request will then be processed by USCIS, who will reply to you as necessary. If your request is approved, USCIS will issue a Form I-797, Approval Notice, to either you or your employer.

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beyond the US

If you live abroad, you must submit an application through a US Embassy there. It takes more time to apply from outside the US. The steps involved are as follows:

Submit Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160.

You will receive a confirmation page after providing the required information, which you must keep for your records.

How do I apply for an E1 visa?

The E1 visa is only available to citizens of countries that the US has a trade treaty with. You can find a list of eligible countries here. If you are eligible, you will then need to apply for an E1 visa at the US consulate in your country, unless you are already in the United States. In order to qualify for this type of visa, you must be employed by or working on behalf of an enterprise from one of the qualifying countries. Additionally, you must have been employed by this company or group continuously during the past two years before applying for the visa.

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What are the requirements of an application?

The requirements for an E1 visa are that the applicant must be a citizen of a country with which the US has a treaty of commerce and navigation. They must also demonstrate that they have substantial trade in goods or services between their home country and the US. The process begins by filing form I-129 with USCIS, followed by filing form DS-160, then completing fingerprinting. Once these three steps are complete, the applicant will need to schedule an interview at one of the following ports: Los Angeles (CA), New York (NY), Miami (FL), Houston (TX) or Chicago (IL).

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Do I need a lawyer to apply for this visa?

It is not necessary to hire a lawyer for the E1 visa application. The process is relatively straightforward, but it can be helpful to have a lawyer review your application before submitting it. E1 visas are also known as US Treaty Trader Visas because they allow traders from other countries to come to the United States temporarily. These visas grant you access only for business purposes and cannot be used for any other purpose. In order to qualify for this visa, you must demonstrate that you have a residence in another country that permits trade with the US or has some form of treaty relationship with the US government.

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How long does it take for me to get approved?

The process for obtaining an E1 visa takes about 4-8 months. The first step is to determine whether or not you are eligible for this type of visa. To do so, you must be a citizen of one of the countries that have signed a treaty with the United States, as well as being employed by a company from one of these countries. If you meet both of those requirements, then there are four more steps:
First, submit your application package to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at least three weeks before your intended departure date.

What about the fees involved with this visa?

The E-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa issued to citizens of countries with which the United States has signed a treaty of commerce and navigation. The E-1 visa is granted to qualified citizens who wish to enter the US for business purposes as well as their spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, or any family member they may have.
In order to be eligible for this visa, you must be an executive or manager in charge of an enterprise that has its main office in the US.
The fee for the E1 visa is $205. You might be asked to pay additional fees such as visa issuance fees or reciprocity fees based on the country you come from.

Get Your Document Ready 

Gather a file of documents to bring with you on the interview:

    Your valid passport.

    If you are an employee of a company, submit documents which prove the nationality of the company and that it belongs to a treaty trade country.

  •     Have one photograph according to the US Visa Photo Requirements and submit it with the DS-160 form.
  •     Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  •     Filled Form DS-156E, Treaty or Trader Investor Application.
  •     Receipts that prove you have paid the necessary fees.
  •     Visa appointment letter.
  •     Letter from employer describing your position and how you are an essential employee to international trade.
  •     Letters or documents which prove you or the company you work for have substantial trade with the US.
  •     Evidence of your intentions to return to your home countries such as property deeds, apartment lease, or other documents.

Attend the interview as arranged.

A representative from the US Embassy will quiz you about your personality and the reason for your trip to the US during the interview. Additionally, the official will try to ascertain if you plan to go back to your native nation. Your visa status may be in jeopardy if they believe you want to live there permanently.

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How long does it take to have an E1 visa processed?

The US Embassy's caseload, or USCIS if you apply from within the US, determines how quickly an E1 visa will be processed. However, from the moment your application is submitted, the anticipated processing period is two to four weeks. You will be informed whether you were granted the visa or not when the processing time is finished.

How long is an E1 visa good for?

If the US Embassy or USCIS decides you meet the conditions and issues you a visa, its validity will be restricted. The original validity of the E1 visa is only two years. This indicates that you have a two-year visa to remain in the US and engage in foreign business. After that, you can choose from a number of choices to extend your stay or go back to your place of origin.

You may leave the US and return through a Port of Entry if you continue to fulfill the conditions of the E1 visa and are qualified as an international merchant (POE). The E1 visa may then be automatically extended for an additional two years.

However, the most typical scenario is that you will need to get a visa extension. Holders of E1 visas are eligible for an infinite number of extensions from the US as long as they continue to demonstrate their purpose to travel back to their place of origin. You must submit Form I-129 and Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Status, in order to request an extension.

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Can someone with an E1 visa apply for a Green Card?

Going from an E1 visa to a Green Card is challenging because you will always need to demonstrate your desire to go back to your native country when your visa expires and your employment is over. It's not impossible, though. Finding employment and an employer prepared to pay for your stay is the simplest route for you to take. After that, you can apply for an H-1B visa and alter your status.

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Final Thought

The E1 visa is a US treaty trader visa that allows the beneficiary to reside in the United States and engage in trade between the country of residence, represented by their home government, and the United States. The applicant must have their home government certify that they are a citizen of their country, be coming to the U.S. for a temporary stay for activities relating to business or trade, and possess skills and experience related to those businesses or trades. Applicants can also qualify for this visa if they are citizens of Canada or Mexico, nationals from countries with which the United States has a free-trade agreement (i.e., Chile), or members of the Panamanian former Canal Zone who live in Panama City or Colon.

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