The article discusses top E1 visa requirements for the USA. But before taking a closer look at the E1 visa requirements it is important to understand the basics of the E1 visa.
The E1 visa for Treaty traders is a nonimmigrant visa that allows citizens of certain countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation to come, work and live in USA together with their family in order to engage in substantial trade primarily between the United States and the E1 treaty country.
The spouse of an E1 visa holder can apply for employment authorization to work in the United States and unmarried children under the age of 21 can attend private and public schools.
The E1 visa allows foreign nationals to do business in USA and expand their foreign companies and divisions in the United States but it does not automatically lead to a green card as it is the case with all other nonimmigrant visas.
Top E1 Visa Requirements for USA
The top E1 visa requirements for USA are:
1. E1 visa requirement 1: You must be a citizen of an E1 treaty country.
To qualify for an E1 visa as a trader, you must be a citizen of one of the E1 treaty countries. Regarding citizenship, it is important to understand that you must have a passport of an E1 treaty country, and you cannot qualify by simply being a permanent resident.
Nationals of the following countries currently qualify for an E1 visa for USA: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey and United Kingdom. Please keep in mind that the list is constantly being revised and you should visit the website of the U.S. Department of State for the latest updates.
Moreover, the period of time for which the E1 visa is approved depends on the reciprocity between the United States and the specific treaty country.
Generally, the validity period for an E1 visa can be anywhere from a couple of months to a maximum of 5 years. In other words, depending on your country of citizenship, if the E1 visa is approved at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad, the validity period of the E1 visa stamp in your passport can range from a couple of months to 5 years depending on the reciprocity with the United States.
For example, if you are a citizen of Switzerland, you can get an E1 visa that is valid for maximum of 4 years, but if you are a citizen of Bolivia, Colombia, Canada or Japan, your E1 visa can be granted for up to 5 years. However, for others such as nationals of Finland, the E1 visa can only be valid for maximum of 2 years.
2. E1 visa requirement 2: You must engage in trade.
To qualify for an E1 visa you must be engaged in international trade in the broader sense as the visa is not limited to the traditional import/export business.
In other words, you must be engaged in the commercial exchange of goods, money or services between the United States and the E1 treaty country for which you seek classification, but you can also be engaged in trade with other countries.
Goods can include products (furniture, electronics, cars, video game cassettes and others), foods (fruits, meats, vegetables and others), merchandise (t-shirts, hats, pens, magnets, calendars, stationery and others) and natural resources (copper, iron, cotton, gold, diamonds, animals, birds and others).
Services traded with the United States can include IT consulting, marketing, advertising, engineering, design, call centers, legal services, tourism, insurance and others.
Generally, it is recommended for you or your firm to engage in trade for at least 1 year prior to applying for the E1 visa, but a shorter period of 6 months can also be possible. However, you cannot qualify for this E1 visa requirement if you have not been engaged in international trade and you are only seeking to qualify for the visa in order to search for a trading partner. If the purpose is to find a trading partner in the United States then other business visas may be available to you.
Most importantly, you must have business activity in your country to meet the requirements for an E1 visa for USA and you must sell the traded services and goods to clients; simply receiving funds in your country for services you performed in the United States without more does not qualify.
3. E1 visa requirement 3: You must come to the United States to primarily engage in substantial trade.
To meet the E1 visa requirements, you must engage in substantial trade with the United States over time and trade with the U.S. must represent a large part of your international trade activities. Generally, to qualify, the monetary value of the trade should be over $100,000 over a period of 1 year and at least 50% of your international trade should be with the United States.
For example, if you are a citizen of Canada and your company in Canada called Trade Canada Corp. earned $1million in revenue in 2020 and $500,000 of the revenue was earned from trade with the United States then you can qualify for an E1 visa for USA.
Aside from the monetary value of the trade, the primary focus is on the volume of trade conducted between the treaty country and the United States. In fact, smaller businesses can qualify when there is a pattern of numerous transactions over time, even if the value of each transaction is small.
In short, it is possible to satisfy the substantial trade requirement if there are multiple small exchanges over a longer period, such as 20 dog toys per week for at least 1 year, or there are fewer large transactions such as a container of 200 wine cases per month, or a combination of both.
For example, let us say you own company ABC in Mexico, an E1 treaty country, and you sell pet toys to the United States. ABC’s sales to the US for the year 2020 represent more than 50% of ABC’s total sales. During 2020, ABC had 1,000 transactions with US companies and the average invoice was $300. This means that the total US sales represented $300,000 in annual revenue for ABC. In this case, ABC’s trade with the United States would be considered substantial because although the transactions were not many over one year (1,000) and the average sale was small (only $300), the total amount per year was relatively large ($300,000).
4. E1 visa requirement 4: The trade must be primarily between the United States and your E1 treaty country.
To meet the E1 visa requirement, the general rule is that at least 50% of the international trade volume must be conducted between the United States and the treaty country for which you seek E1 visa classification. For example, if you have a company registered in Italy that traded with the United States but all the goods sold were shipped and came from China, then you do not meet the E1 visa requirements because the goods or services traded must originate in the treaty country.
Malescu Law can assist
Our experienced business and immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA can assist with determining if you meet the top E1 visa requirements, advise, plan, and strategize your case for the E1 visa, prepare the relevant documents and the E1 visa business plan. Contact us or book a consultation to determine if you qualify for the E1 visa and discuss other business immigration options for you.
Malescu Law P.A. – Immigration Lawyers