E-1 Visa

E-1 Visas are also known as "E-1 Treaty Traders." They are meant for business people in qualifying treaty countries if they are interested in engaging in substantial trade with the U.S. or work for a company that does. However, you may have questions about these visas and what they will do for you and your family. This page presents a valuable resource for answering questions you may have about the E-1 category, including whether you are eligible.

What are the benefits of being an E-1 cardholder? First of all, once you obtain an E-1 visa, you will be able to stay in the country for some time to come. These visas can be granted for up to two years, during which a holder may travel freely to and from the U.S. – however, they can also be renewed in two-year increments an unlimited number of times. This allows for the Treaty Trader to remain in the United States for as long as it takes for the business to continue on successfully. If an E-1 holder travels abroad, they could be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when they return to the U.S.

Is the E-1 Visa much like a green card? No. The E-1 Visa actually does not lead to permanent residency. Once the E-1 expires, an applicant must have the intent to return to his or her country of origin without issue. Those looking for permanent residency could also look into the L-1 visa or a labor certification to work for a different company.

What are some requirements that must be met for me to receive one of these visas?

  • 50% of the trading firm where the work is taking place must be owned by citizens of the treaty country.
  • Trade must take place, which means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology.
  • It must be justified that the trader or their employees are in the U.S. to manage the trade. Therefore, the volume and dollar value of the trade must be substantial.
  • At least 50% of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant’s nationality.
  • The Treaty Trader or employee must possess be a manager, executive, or person with highly specialized skills essential to the operation of the firm.

What are the limitations of the E-1 Visa? For one, you are only permitted to work for the specific employer or self-owned business that acted as the E-1 visa sponsor. These visas are also only available to foreign nationals of countries having trade treaties with the United States. Also keep in mind that the period of authorized stay is only granted for two years at a time (VP).

How long can I stay in the U.S. when I have obtained an E-1 visa? To some extent, you may be able to stay indefinitely. This is due to the fact that your visa can be renewed any number of times. However, the level of international trade or the value of your investment in the U.S. will remain sufficient enough for you to remain there. Registration without renewal will be valid for approximately two and five years (SIA).

How do I obtain extension of stay on the E-1 Visa? Often the best way to renew an E-1 is to apply at a U.S. consulate outside of the United States. An extension may also be filed by submitting a Form I-129 and Form I-539 for dependents, but this process will not lead to a visa that can be used for travel. Here are some other documents that you must consider:

  • Copy of Form I-94 Arrival-Departure document
  • Copy of original Form I-797, Notice of Action, if your status was previously approved in the United States
  • Copy of your complete passport with the E-1 Visa
  • Letter from your employer stating an extension requirement
  • Copy of your personal and U.S. business income tax returns for two years (VP)

Are there travel restrictions on the E-1 Visa? No. You will be able to travel as many times as you want before your E-1 status actually expires as long as you have an E-1 visa stamp in your passport. The USCIS does not impose any time limits on your stay abroad. This goes hand in hand with being able to study on an E-1 Visa. You are permitted to study on this visa. However, you have one restriction – you may not join a full-length study program. You can take on some credits at a university, but only if they do not harm the primary interest of your visa and you are still able to continue upon your work.

Am I permitted to bring my dependents on E-1 Visa? Yes, you are permitted to bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 if you want them to come with you. They are also permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your status. You are also permitted to bring a domestic or personal servant on nonimmigrant status if you can show that they are not abandoning their residence and they have served you for at least one year or had an ongoing employment relationship.

Can my dependents work or study on an E-1 Visa? Your spouse is allowed to work if he or she applies for Employment Authorization using Form I-765, which is the Application for Employment Authorization. Your children, however, are not allowed to work. Your dependents may also attend U.S. schools and colleges if they so choose to study and do not have to apply for separate student Visas such as F-1 Visas (VP).

Where can I apply for this status? You must file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or apply at a U.S. Consulate abroad. The application process can be somewhat complex, especially if you are new to it. A consular officer or the USCIS will evaluate your application to determine whether or not you can become a Treaty Trader. You must make sure that all aspects of your application are complete and show that you are actually eligible for the E-1. This is why it is of utmost important that you talk to somebody with experience to help you prepare your documents.

At the Valdez Immigration Law Firm, we can help you if you are interested in becoming a Treaty Trader or continuing your status for a few more years. If you believe that this is the right choice for you, then you should call as soon as possible to gain access to the information that you need. We are attorneys that can guide you through the process every step of the way.

Works Cited

VP. VisaPro, 2016. Web. Accessed Jan 25, 2016. http://faq.visapro.com/e1-visa-faq3.asp

SIA. SIA workpermit.com, 2008. Web. Accessed Jan 25, 2016. http://www.workpermit.com/us/investor_e1_e2.htm