E1 Visas for Treaty Traders

David Sturman

E1 Visas for Treaty Traders

The E1 is the primary nonimmigrant trader’s visa available to persons from countries with which the U.S. has a treaty of trade and commerce. 


  1. The applicant must be a native, (natural born,) or citizen (born or naturalized) of one of the treaty countries listed below.
  2. The applicant must trade goods, services, or technology or be in the process of engaging in a “substantial amount of trade” principally between his native country and the United States.
  3. The trader must own and control the foreign company which is engaged in trade principally with the United States.
  4. The trader is coming to the U.S. to manage or direct the trade.
  5. The trader indicates an intention to return to his or her home country at the expiration of the E2 visa period.


  1.  Allows applicant to obtain long term visa through proof of sustained trade principally with the United States and the treaty country.
  2. The trade need not be large depending upon the items traded.. “Substantial trade” requirement is flexible and can be satisfied with trade of as little as $100,000 per year depending upon the type of items traded.
  3. E1 Visa valid indefinitely as long as trade is ongoing with the U.S. It is issued in two to five year increments  and is renewable.
  4. Spouse and minor children can accompany trader into U.S.
  5. Spouse can obtain work authorization from USCIS to work anywhere.
  6. Children can attend school without student visa
  7. Visa can be issued very quickly, often in a matter of weeks or months.
  8. Persons in lawful nonimmigrant status can change status to E1 in the U.S. without departing.
  9. E1 Visa holders are not required to live or reside in the U.S. for any particular period of time and can normally travel in and out of the U.S.

E1 visas are considered nonimmigrant visas which means that traders ordinarily do not obtain permanent residence. However, if trader maintains a sister company abroad, and hires staff in the U.S., he may be able to obtain permanent residence as an intracompany transferee.  This type of immigrant visa is called an Employment Based First Preference and covers high level managers and executives who have been transferred to the U.S. after serving in that capacity for at least one year during the last three years abroad.

Countries that Maintain Treaties of Navigation and Commerce with the United States for E2 Visa Purposes Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (Yugoslavia), Brunei, Canada, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia (Yugoslavia), Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia (Yugoslavia), Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Slovenia (Yugoslavia), Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, U.K. and Yugoslavia.

E1 visa holders may only work for themselves or the E visa enterprise.
E1 visa holders may not hold a job outside the employment by the E1 treaty enterprise. However, spouses of E1 visa holders may apply for work authorization from the USCIS and work anywhere.  E1 visa holders may work for their own company of for the company of their employer who petitioned them for E1 status.

E1 Visas are available to traders as well as to foreign employees of the trader who are managers or directors of the business.  This means that foreign citizens who are of the same nationality as the treaty investor may obtain E1 visas as well to be employed in the U.S. in a managerial capacity.

E1 visas may be extended as long as the E visa trade is ongoing.
It is not unusual to extend E1 visas for many years as long as the trade between the U.S. and foreign country is ongoing.  If trade stops the E1 visa will not be extended.

E1 visas are generally issued in five year increments.
They may be extended either by filing with the USCIS in the U.S. or by applying for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad.  Persons who hold E1 visas issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate are entitled to multiple entries into the U.S.

E1 visa dependent children lose their E visa status when they turn 21 years of age and need to change to another nonimmigrant status.

At the Law Office of David M. Sturman, we will help treaty traders in establishing a corporation, securing the necessary paperwork to prove the trade qualifies for E1 status, preparing the necessary application, and guiding the trader through the process with constant guidance, oversight and counsel.  We have successfully guided treaty traders through the E1 visa application process both in the United States and at foreign posts of the U.S. Embassy throughout the world.  We are aware of the particular E1 requirements of each U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad as well as the requirements of the USCIS in the United States. Let us utilize our expertise in this area to make your trader’s visa a quick and easy success.