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The E-1 visa is a non-immigrant, temporary visa for foreign nationals coming to the U.S. solely to engage in international trade on their own behalf or on behalf of a qualifying company. The individual — and, if applicable, the relevant company — must have the nationality of a country with whom the U.S. has a relevant treaty. Key employees of the qualifying company, who are also nationals of the treaty country, can also be eligible for E-1 status.
Caroline Ostrom, Minneapolis business immigration attorney, assists individuals and companies worldwide who are seeking U.S. E-1 visas. We encourage you to contact us if you need legal advice regarding E-1 eligibility or the application process.
To qualify for an E-1 visa, the individual seeking the visa and the employing U.S. entity must be nationals of a country on the relevant treaty list.
The nationality of a company is determined by the nationality of the owners. To qualify for the E-1, at least 50% of the owners of must be nationals of the treaty country. Treaty country nationals who have permanent resident (green card) status in the U.S. are not counted as nationals of a treaty country for E-1 purposes.
To qualify for the E-1 visa, the treaty trader must:
The term “trade“includes the exchange, purchase, or sale of goods and/or service. Trade is interpreted broadly for the E-1, and it can include, for example, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, and technology and its transfer.
Substantial trade is considered to be a continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction. Greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value.
Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country.
In addition to the principal treaty traders, key employees of the company may qualify for an E-1 visa. The employees must have the same nationality as the employer. The position to be filled by an E-1 employee must be in an executive or supervisory capacity that involves control of the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it, or the position must require highly specialized skills essential to the operation of the business.
The E-1 visa entry may be issued by a U.S. consulate abroad for a period of up to five years, depending on the country of nationality. This visa period is the time during which the E-1 visa holder can use the visa to enter the U.S. Each time a treaty investor with an E-1 visa is admitted to the U.S., he or she is granted a 2 year period in which to remain in the U.S. This is the period of admission. There is no limit on E-1 visa renewals, provided the eligibility for the visa continues to exist and the E-1 entrant maintains valid status in the U.S. Since the E-1 is a temporary nonimmigrant visa however, the individual must have a temporary intent to remain in the United States, even if the E-1 has been renewed multiple times.
The spouse and children under the age of 21 of the investor are eligible for E-1 dependent visas. The E-1 spouse is eligible to apply for work authorization in the U.S. The spouse and children of the E-1 investor do not need to have the same nationality as the investor, or be nationals of countries on the treaty list. When the E-1 children turn 21, they no longer qualify for E-1 status, and must find a different relevant category, such as an F-1 student visa, to remain in the U.S.
Generally, an E-1 treaty investor applies for the visa directly at a U.S. consulate outside of the United States. An investor seeking E-1 status who is already in the United States in non-immigrant status may be eligible to file an application to change to E-1 status with USCIS, but will need an E-1 entry visa in order to re-enter the U.S. in E-1 status.
A successful E-1 visa application requires careful documentation related to the volume and nature of the trade, as well as the roles of the E-1 visa applicants. In addition to knowing the relevant regulations and government manuals, Ostrom Law Office also finds out various U.S. consular posts’ interpretations of the E-1 guidance, which can vary from post to post. There are many parts to the E-1 application, which we carefully assess and organize, to present a strong case for approval of the E-1.
Based in Minneapolis, our immigration team works with employees and companies in the Twin Cities and throughout the globe. We welcome you to contact Ostrom Law Office for assistance with your immigration matter.