To concrete the relationship of commerce and navigation with countries, the United States enters into bilateral treaties and issues the E-1 non-immigrant visa to national traders of treaty countries, allowing traders and their qualifying employees to live and work in the United States to carry out international trade. The E-1 holder may bring their spouse and children under 21 to the United States for companion while only spouse is permitted to work. While the E-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa, unlimited extension opens up a door to traders planning to establish long-term substantial international trade between the United States and their countries.
The E-1 Visa lists fewer qualifying treaty countries than the E-2 Visa. The countries which have treaties with the United States for E-1 Visa are as follows:
|Argentina||Australia||Austria||Belgium||Bolivia||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
To qualify for E-1, the treaty trader must demonstrate that:
Traders who hold nationality of treaty countries and engage in continuously substantial international trade between their own treaty countries and the United States may qualify for this type of E-1 Visa.
The volume of international trade between traders’ treaty countries and the United States, which must constitutes the majority of traders’ international trade (i.e. at least 50% of international trade undertaken is between traders’ treaty countries and the United States) and must be substantial enough to justify traders’ necessity to stay in the United States, is the critical criteria for E-1 Visa application. Although no specific minimum volume of trade is stipulated pursuant to rules or regulations, the traders is required to demonstrate certain factors for authorities’ consideration, such as the substantial number and dollar value of trade.
It is worth noted that international trade under E-1 requirement is not strictly defined, including but not limited to trade in goods, services, eligible activities, technology, banking, insurance, transportation and tourism.
Once the registration of treaty trader is granted to the principal treaty trader applicants, they may subsequently apply for E-1 for their employee. To qualify for E-1, the principal treaty trader applicant must demonstrate that:
The employees may qualify for this type of E-1 Visa, provided they hold nationality of treaty countries, work as either an executive/supervisor or essential employee with specialized skills for an employer who is either the E-1 holder or proved to be eligible for the E-1 Visa.
The executive or supervisory employees must develop and direct the trade of the treaty trader. Although it is not required that the executive or supervisory employees must have worked for the principal treaty trader for at least one year in the last three, in evaluating the applications of executive or supervisory employees, competent authority centers on the nature of position, title, detailed job description, the trading company’s organizational structure, salary offered, prior executive or supervisory experience, etc.
On the other hand, the essential employees with specialized skills would have to demonstrate the specialized skills which are needed and essential to the efficient operation of the trading company. The employees with ordinary skills or without skills do not qualify for this type of E-1 Visa. Furthermore, the E-1 Visa would only be granted if applicants proves that an American worker cannot be trained to replace the essential employee with specialized skills within the E-1 validity. The adjudicating officers evaluate factors such as the uniqueness of the skills, detailed job responsibilities, essential expertise and experience in the specialized field which are irreplaceable, salary offered, possibility to fill the position with other local employer, future plan to train American worker as replacement of the essential employee with specialized skills, etc.
In practice, the principal treaty trader applicant may present documents, including company organizational chart, position descriptions, applicant’s relevant diplomas, certificates of training, documentation of relevant job experience, and C.V. or resume, to support application. In event of the application of essential employee with specialized skills, further explanation why no qualified American worker (citizen or legal permanent resident) could be found to fill the position would be required.
Qualified treaty traders and employees would be granted a maximum initial stay of two years with unlimited opportunities for extension of up to two years each, provided the requirements are continuously met. All E-1 holders, however, must intend to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of E-1 status.
The E-1 treaty traders and their employees may travel abroad during the validity of E-1 and an automatic two years extension would be granted upon readmission to the United States. On the other hand, it is noted that additional automatic extension is not granted to the dependents of E-1 treaty traders or employees unless they are accompanying the E-1 treaty traders or employees at the time the latter seeks admission to the United States. Such dependents must carefully check their period of stay and apply for extension accordingly to remain lawfully in the United States.
The treaty traders or their employees may be accompanied or followed by their spouses and children under the age of 21 and the derivative E-1 visa of the same period of stay as the treaty traders or their employees would be granted therefore. The dependents need not to hold the same nationality as the treaty traders or their employees. Besides that, spouses may further apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765. Once approved, they are allowed to pursue work of any kind and anywhere without specific restriction.
The dependents of E-1 treaty traders or employees shall keep track on their visa validity and apply for extension at appropriate time since no automatic extension would be granted as the treaty traders or their employees.