E-1 Visa Requirements

General Qualifications for a Treaty Trader

To qualify for an E-1 (Treaty Trader) visa, an alien applicant must meet certain specific requirements, namely:

  1. The alien must be a citizenof a treaty country (refer to our chart on the General Description of E-1/E-2 page for a list of such countries);

  2. The alien must engage in substantial trade with the United States;

  3. The alien must engage in principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification (trade qualifies as “principal trade” between the U.S. and the treaty country, when more than 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country.).

Please note that USCIS defines trade as:

“The existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country.”

This includes, but is not limited to, trade in goods, services, international banking, insurance, tourism, technology and its transfer, and so forth. Generally, trade involves a steady flow of trade items, through numerous transactions over time. The monetary value of transactions is considered, but greater importance is placed on conducting a greater number of transactions, with great overall value.

General Qualifications for the Employee of a Treaty Trader

Employees of 1) an alien holding an E-1 Treaty Trader visa, or a 2) qualifying enterprise or organization may also qualify for an E-1 visa.

To qualify for an E-1 visa as the employee of an individual treaty trader, an alien must meet set specifications:

  1. The alien must be of the same nationality as the alien employer (thus, both being of the nationality of the treaty country);

  2. The alien must meet the legal definition of an employee, i.e. an “individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration”; and,

  3. The alien must be engaged in executive or supervisory duties, or, if the alien does not meet that requirement they must be employed in a capacity that requires specific qualifications. Specific qualifications are defined by USCIS as specialized skills that make the employee essential to the functioning of the trade. As such, these skill can vary, but often include:

    1. Proven degree of expertise in the specific trade area
    2. Possession of unique skills related to the trade which others do not have
    3. Ability to command a certain salary level based on these skills

An alien can also qualify for an E-1 visa as the employee of a qualifying enterprise or organization. To qualify as such, the organization or enterprise must be at least 50% owned by persons of the nationality of the treaty country who would be coming to the U.S. for trade.  Further, those owners must maintain current nonimmigrant treaty trader status, or, if they are outside of the U.S., they must be classifiable as such. To qualify for an E-1 visa as the employee of a qualifying organization or enterprise, the alien must meet the same qualifications detailed above.

Family Members of E-1 Visa Holders

Certain family members of treaty traders and employees may also accompany the E-1 visa holder as dependents. An E-1 visa holder may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.  Notably, their nationalities do not need to be the same as that of the treaty trader or employee. 

(Updated 10/4/2012 by AG)

For more information on the E-1, E-2 category, please click one of the following links: