E-1 Visa for International Trade Workers
E-1 for Traders
Purpose of E Visa Classification
The E classification is for foreign nationals engaged in international trade or investment between the United States and the foreign worker's country of nationality. To qualify for an E visa, the foreign worker's country of nationality must have a Bilateral Investment Treaty, Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or another qualifying treaty with the United States.
Many countries have trade or investment treaties, or both, with the United States. The following are some of the countries have both types of treaties: Australia; Canada; France; Germany; Italy; Japan; Korea; Mexico; Pakistan; Philippines; Singapore; Taiwan; Sweden; Switzerland; Thailand; and the United Kingdom.
The E-1 visa is for foreign workers coming to the United States solely to engage in substantial trade between the country of the foreign worker's nationality and the United States (E-1 Treaty Trader).
The length of time E visas are issued for depends on the length of time the E visa applicant’s country of nationality typically grants to U.S. citizens. Typically the maximum period is five years. E visas may be extended indefinitely, as long as E visa holders do not violate the terms of their status.
E-1 Visa for Treaty Traders
The E-1 Treaty Trader visa classification allows foreign workers to travel to the United States to engage in substantial trade in goods, services, or technology. Usually an E-1 applicant must show that trade already exists as of the date of the E-1 applicant's visa application. However, an E-1 applicant may be able to qualify for a visa by presenting binding contracts calling for immediate trade.
To qualify for an E-1 visa:
- The applicant must be a national of a country with whom the U.S. has an E-1 treaty.
- The applicant must have the same nationality as the principal employer.
- The applicant must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity or have special qualifications that make the applicant's services "essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise.
- The principal employer must be at least 50 percent owned by persons or entities with the same nationality as the treaty country.
- The applicant must be coming to the U.S. for the purposes of trade, defined as "the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the U.S. and the treaty country.
- The trade must be substantial, meaning "an amount of trade sufficient to insure a continuous flow of international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country.
- The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country
Trade is deemed to be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country when over 50 percent of the volume of international trade conducted by the treaty applicant is between the U.S. and the treaty country.
Applying for an E Visa
If the applicant is inside the United States, Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, is used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment.
If the applicant is outside the United States, the applicant may apply for an E visa on his or her own behalf (no petition or sponsorship from an employer is required) at a United States consulate abroad. Most consulates require applicants to complete Form DS-156E, Non-immigrant Treaty Trader/Investor Application in addition to the Form DS-156, Non-immigrant Visa Application.
Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to join the principal E visa holder and are given the same classification as the principal. Spouses of E visa holders may apply for an Employment Authorization Document by filing Form I-765 and may work in the United States. Children may not work in the United States but they may study.
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