E-1 Visa

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.


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.

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.

Attorney Tips for E-1 Visas

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Alternative Options

People who are considering applying for a B-1 visa may also look into:

Green Cards

  • 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.

E-1 Visa News

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