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E-1 (Treaty Trader)

US Business Visa Category E-1 (Treaty Trader Visa)

Suitable for business owners with substantial existing US trade

Both the E-1 (treaty trader) and E-2 (treaty investor) visas were established in connection with bilateral treaties of commerce, including the FCNs (Treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation) and the BITs (Bilateral Investment Treaties) between the country the treaty trader or investor is a national/citizen and the US – a list of participating countries can be found at the US Department of State.

The E-1 and E-2 visas allow traders, investors and their employees to legally enter the US on a non-immigrant basis for the reasons of trading or investing. To successfully obtain one of these visas, you must be a member of a participating treaty country and meet all required criteria.

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How can I qualify for an E-1 Treaty Trader visa?   

In order to be eligible for E-1 visa status, you must meet all relevant terms. These include:

Be a national of a treaty country  

If you’re a company, at least 50% of the membership interests/shares must be owned by nationals of the treaty country in question. And if you’re an employee of a treaty trader company, you must share the same nationality as the company employing you.

To establish the true nationality of your company, the following must be considered:

  • The nationalities of all stock holders
  • Where the company is listed if publicly traded, and whether it’s listed on one sole exchange
  • The percentage of stock owned by treaty country nationals
  • If company members hold legal permanent residency in the US

Be entering the United States for the purposes of continuing substantial trade between the country of which you’re a citizen/national, and the US 

Substantial trade – Defined as the amount of sufficient trade necessary to maintain and continuous flow of international trade between the US and treaty country in question, trade is considered substantial if income gained is enough to support the treaty trader. Numerous transactions must be completed over a specific time period, as a one-time transaction won’t be considered a ‘substantial trade’ – regardless of value.

Trade items – Specific items that can be traded successfully include:

  • Services
  • Goods
  • International banking
  • Monies
  • Insurance
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Advertizing
  • Data processing
  • Management consulting
  • Accounting
  • Design & engineering
  • Tourism
  • Technology
  • News gathering activities

Principal trade – When over 50% of the international trade volume of the treaty trader is completed between the trader’s national treaty country and the US, it’s considered principal trade.

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How long is an E-1 visa valid?  

This is highly dependent on your origin country. But, for example, if you’re a British citizen with a strong application, your E-1 visa will typically be valid for 5 years – but this may be as little as 2 as every individual case is different.

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Am I able to bring my family with an E-1 visa?    

Yes – your children under the age of 21 and spouse will be able to attain E-2 visas in order to accompany you. Whether their application is successful solely depends on the basis of their relationship with you as the primary visa holder.

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Can my spouse and children work and/or study?    

As long as their application is successful, your spouse is permitted to work and/or study, and your children under 21 can study without needing an F-1 Student visa.

Before your spouse can work, official Employment Authorization will be needed. However, children can attend school with no further action.

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What are the primary benefits of an E-1 Treaty Trader visa?  

  • Processing time and cost
  • Duration
  • No investment is required for successful application
  • Lower staffing and profitability requirements than E-2 and L-1 visas

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What are the primary limitations of an E-1 Treaty Trader visa?  

  • Not suitable for new businesses
  • Proven substantial trade must be present at the time of filing

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Where does filing take place?   

When filing for an E-1 visa, there are two available methods – consular processing (outside the US) and change of status (in the US). If you’re not already legally present in the US, change of status won’t be an option for you.

If you are already present, give us a call to discuss further.

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Can I get a green card through an E-1 visa?   

There are no explicit direct methods of obtaining a green card through an E-1 visa. However, you could qualify for permanent US residency through Eb-1C, Eb-5 or other potential options dependent on your individual circumstances.

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Which employees will be eligible to obtain E-1 visas?   

In order for an employee to successfully gain an E-1 visa, they must:
  • Be proven to have the same nationality as their treaty employer
  • Be an ‘essential’ employee with special qualifications, in a non-supervisory role
  • Be in an employed position defined as supervisory or executive

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What is an essential employee?  

An ‘essential’ employee is determined via a variety of relevant circumstances. Factors that need to be considered include whether they employee has a degree, their proven expertize, uniqueness of skills specific to the organization in which their employed, given salary and availability.

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What is a supervisor/executive?  

To define a particular employee as a supervisor or executive, they must demonstrate substantial responsibility and control within their role.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Taxes, Company Formation, and Residency in the U.S.

We’ve compiled over 150 of the most frequent questions and answers (FAQs) on tax, company formation, and residency in the U.S. in our knowledge base. You can visit our knowledge base here.

If you find that your personal questions have not been answered, book a telephone consultation here.

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Get Advice on Taxation, Company Formation, and Residency in the U.S.

If you already have a project that you want to implement in the U.S., you will most likely have already dealt with the intense framework conditions in the U.S. Online, you can find a wealth of information on almost every subject. Though all this information is available, it is common for one to reach a point of confusion. There are too many aspects to consider simultaneously and the starting position can be complex.

To solve this mental knot and pave your way to success, jump on a 1-hour telephone counseling session based on taxation, incorporation, and residency in the U.S. In this conversation, we will discuss specific technical issues such as tax, U.S. corporations or LLCs. Or we can discuss any strategic options you are considering.

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