What is an E-1 Visa?
The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa allows individuals, or employees of companies, to enter the U.S. to carry out international trade.
E-1 Visa for Employees
It is also possible for employees to come to the United States under an E-1 visa for trade purposes, provided they meet the following conditions:
- The employee must be a citizen or national of the treaty nation.
- They must be in a managerial or supervisory role that requires specialist skills or knowledge.
- The employer must either be in the United States on a current E-1 visa or, if the employer is outside the U.S., must prove that they could meet the conditions of E-1 qualification.
The definition of “trade” for an E-1 visa is not strict. It may apply to the trade of goods, services, and even banking. There is no set limit to the amount of trade that must occur, although there is a greater emphasis on the number of transactions over total value.
An E-1 trader or employee is only allowed to work in the activity they were approved for when the visa was issued. However, if their employer has a parent company, it may be possible for them to work for that organization.
An E-1 visa may also cover immediate family (legal spouse and unmarried children under 21). The spouse of the visa holder is permitted to work, but the children are not.
E-1 Visa Requirements
- The E-1 visa applicant must show they intend to engage in “substantial trade,” which is not strictly defined.
- At least 50% of the trade volume carried out must be between the United States and the designated treaty country (“principal trade”).
- The trade could be in the form of physical movement of goods, transportation, or non-physical services, including banking and insurance, tourism, technology, or journalism.
- The applicant must be a national of one of the treaty countries (this requirement does not apply to family members).
- As with other U.S. Visa terms, the applicant should be prepared to provide evidence that they intend to return to their home country at the end of the visa period (see extensions below.)
E-1 Visa Processing Time, Length of Stay and Extensions
The E-1 visa processing time varies by consulate and whether you are applying from within or outside the U.S. On average, it takes between two and four weeks to process.
The E-1 visa grants a stay of up to two years and may be followed by an extension of up to two years, provided the visa holder continues to meet the initial E-1 visa conditions. There is no limit to the number of extensions.
E-1 visa holders may travel outside of the U.S. and will get an automatic 2-year extension upon re-entry.
However, note that the additional readmission extension is not granted to family members automatically; they should keep track of their length of stay and apply for extensions at the appropriate time to remain in the U.S lawfully.
The Most Common E-1 Fees and Their Associated Costs
- Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application: This is the primary form for E-1 visa applicants, which is submitted to the U.S. Department of State. The fee for Form DS-160 is $160.
- Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker: This form is typically used when a U.S. company is petitioning on behalf of the applicant who is already in the United States or seeks to change their visa status. The fee for Form I-129 is $460.
- Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status: This form is used when the E-1 visa holder is seeking an extension or change in their status while in the United States. The cost of Form I-539 is $370.
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support: This form is needed if the applicant must prove they have the financial resources to support themselves during their stay in the United States. The cost of Form I-134 is $0.
- Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service: This form is optional and used when the applicant wishes to speed up the application process. The fee for Form I-907 is $2,500.
In addition to these forms, the applicant may also incur other costs such as travel expenses to the U.S. embassy or consulate, translation fees, document preparation fees, and costs associated with acquiring necessary supporting documents like copies of their passport, a birth certificate, or a marriage certificate. The total cost of an E-1 visa application can vary greatly depending on the individual's circumstances, but the applicant should expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars in application fees and other associated costs.
MOST FREQUENTLY USED E-1 VISAS FORMS
Attorney Tips for E-1 Visas
People who are considering applying for a B-1 visa may also look into:
- E-2 — Treaty Investor (if you have significant funds to invest, and the treaty investor option also applies to the treaty country).
- You may also look into L-1 for intra-company transferees.
- Additionally, if you have $500,000USD or more to invest, it may be worth considering going directly for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Green Card.
- The EB1-1 “Extraordinary Ability” visa can be available to applicants who can prove exceptional and sustained success in their particular field.
- Either the EB-2 (employment-based exceptional ability) or EB-3 (skilled, professional, or other worker) may also be applicable.
Contact OnlineVisas to arrange your visa strategy session with one of our E-1 visa attorneys, who will help you through every step of the process.
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