E-1 Visa: 5 Things Treaty Traders Need to Know

Getting an E-1 Visa with Galstyan LawAs far as nonimmigrant visas go, the Treaty Trader E-1 visa is in a league of its own. The world runs on commerce, and this visa facilitates that like no other visa does. For nationals, belonging to countries who are currently maintaining treaties of trade and navigation with the US, seeking to enter the US in order to perform that trade, the E-1 just might be the visa for you. If you are trying to start your process towards getting an E-1 visa, here are some things you need to know to help you on your way:

1. There Are Two Ways to Acquire an E-1 Visa

There are two distinct ways that an E-1 visa can be obtained:

  1. The normal visa application process, by which a foreign national of a treaty country applies for a visa at the US consulate or embassy under whose jurisdiction their treaty country of nationality lies.
  2. By a change of status application from a current nonimmigrant visa holder who is also a national of a treaty country.

2. What Constitutes a Trader from a Treaty Country?

A treaty country is one of the over 50 E-1 visa-eligible countries that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US. Trade is the international exchange of items of trade between the United States and the treaty country. These items include but are not limited to:

  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and the transfer of technology
  • News-gathering activities

3. Eligibility Requirements Are Tricky

To qualify for an E1 visa, the treaty trader must fulfill several qualifications.

  • The treaty trader must be a national of a treaty country, as mentioned above.
  • This national must carry on substantial trade.
    • Substantial trade is defined by US Citizenship and Immigration Services as the “continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time.”
    • While there is technically no minimum monetary value or volume per transaction, larger exchanges of greater value in both regards are weighed more heavily in the applicant’s favor.
  • The trade in question must principally be between the US and the treaty country of the E-1 visa applicant’s nationality.
    • For the trade to principally be between those two countries, at least 50% of the trade done by the treaty trader must meet that qualification.

4. Both Trader Employees and Family Can Qualify

Employees and families are eligible to accompany the primary trader, provided they meet the additional eligibility requirements.

Employees must be the same nationality of the E-1 visa holder. Additionally, they must be of indispensable value to the success of the business venture in the US.

These individuals must be employed in an executive or supervisory position and must meet the definition of “employee” according to relevant legislation as it pertains to the situation. If the employee is not serving in such a capacity, they must have special skills necessary to the business’ success, receive high pay similar to that of an executive, or possess and maintain a skill set not found by the average individual in the US.

For family members of E-1 visa treaty traders, US law allows the spouse and children under the age of 21 to accompany the worker as dependents with nonimmigrant status, usually for the same amount of time as the visa holder is allowed. The spouse of an E1 holder may apply for a work permit for a fee and, if approved, is not restricted to any specific field of employment.

5. You Must Renew the E-1 Visa Every Two Years

For E1 visa holders, the maximum initial period of stay allowed is two years, and can be extended under current legislation for additional two year periods indefinitely, provided the individual serves in the same capacity and the status of the treaty country and employing business remains constant.

In addition, there are no travel restrictions for the E-1 visa, so you can come and go as you please, provided that the visa has not expired. Should it expire while you are outside of the country, you will have to start the visa application process all over again.

6. Galstyan Law Is Here to Help You Cut Through the Red Tape

Many can become confused and frustrated when faced with all the stipulations and regulations they must meet in order to qualify for the E-1 visa, but don’t give up hope. The Galstyan Law team of experienced immigration lawyers have handled dozens of E-1 cases and are ready to answer any questions you may have regarding your visa applications. Your ambitions don’t have to be put on hold because of your current limitations. Contact Mr. Galstyan today, and let us help trade your old life for a new American experience, with a Treaty trader E-1 visa.

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