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E-1 Visa: Treaty Traders

The E-1 Treaty Trader visa exists for citizens of countries that maintain a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. It enables foreign nationals to be admitted to the U.S. solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. In addition, certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.


To qualify for E-1 status, the treaty trader must be coming to the U.S. to conduct trade between the States and the treaty country. In addition, the applicant must:

  1. Be a national of a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
  2. Carry on substantial trade with the U.S.; and
  3. Carry on principal trade between the U.S. and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.

Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to: goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, technology and its transfer, and some news-gathering activities.

Substantial trade is an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country. This involves numerous transaction over time, and there is no minimum requirement as to the monetary value or volume of each individual transaction. The monetary value of each transaction is an important factor in considering substantiality, but greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of larger value. Conversely, treaty trader status may not be established or maintained on the basis of a single transaction.

Principal Trade between the U.S. 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.

Foreign National Manager and Essential Employees

If a foreign national employee has the same citizenship as the owner(s) of the E-visa-related company, that applicant may also qualify for an E-visa. The job the employee will perform must be executive or supervisory in nature, or the employee must possess special qualifications that are essential to the operation of the U.S. enterprise.

Executive or supervisory job duties are those which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it.

Special qualifications are skills which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the business. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The degree of proven expertise in the employees area of operations;
  • Whether others possess the employees specific skills;
  • The salary that the special qualifications can command;
  • Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States.

Petition Process

The attorneys at Berardi Immigration Law works closely with the E-1 visa applicant to assemble the application and draft a detailed Letter of Support. Once the application is finalized, the petition is typically sent electronically to the Consulate or Embassy with jurisdiction over the application. (Processing times for the Consular review of the E-1 visa application vary depending on the location.) The applicant must then attend an in-person E-1 visa interview. Upon approval, the applicant’s passport is generally returned within 3-5 business days with the E-1 visa stamped inside.

Period of Stay

The visa validity length for the E-1 category varies by country based on reciprocity agreements. For Canadians and most European countries, the E visa is typically issued for a five-year period. Upon entering the U.S., applicants are generally admitted for up to a two-year period of stay. Requests for an extension of stay may be granted by USCIS if filing by mail.

There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. Keep in mind, however, that the visa can only be renewed or extended if the trade, which served as the basis for an E-1 approval, continues to meet all applicable requirements of U.S. immigration laws and regulations. The E-1 category does not directly allow for dual intent, so treaty-traders must maintain their permanent ties abroad.


The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of the primary E-1 applicant may also accompany or follow the primary holder in that same status. They are not required to have the same nationality as the principal applicant. In addition, spouses and children may attend school, and spouses are eligible to apply for work authorization in the U.S.

The Berardi Difference

New E-1 cases and E-1 renewals require a detailed review of the treaty enterprise business prior to the interview. These are very complex and labor-intensive petitions. At Berardi Immigration Law, our staff of skilled attorneys have access to a network of resources that allow us to handle every aspect of your E-1 visa application. Not only do we draft the entire petition from start to finish, but we also provide you with a detailed list of documentation needed to prepare a successful case, schedule the applicant’s visa appointment, and communicate with the Department of State on your behalf. We guide applicants through the entire process, and this full-service approach is what sets our firm apart.