This article discusses what is E1 Visa USA? The E1 Visa USA also known as the E1 Treaty Trader visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign individual who is a citizen of one of the E1 treaty countries to come to the United States together with his or her family to live and work in order to engage in international trade primarily between the United States and the E1 treaty country.
In addition, the E1 Visa USA is also available to employees of qualifying companies or treaty traders to enter the United States to build a pre-existing trading relationship between the US and the treaty country. The employees must be citizens of the treaty country.
While the E1 Visa USA is less often used by foreign individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses, it is in many respects similar to the E2 visa but does not require a substantial investment in a U.S. company.
Simply put, the E1 Visa USA facilitates trade between the United States and a foreign national’s country of citizenship and enables a foreign individual to come to the United States to continue improving the international trade and expand his or her business.
However, in order for a person to be eligible for an E1 Visa USA, he or she must be a citizen of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. These countries are commonly referred to as treaty countries and there are currently approximately 55 E1 treaty countries. To check if your country of citizenship has an E1 treaty with the United States, you can visit the U.S. Department of State here.
The E1 Visa USA can be granted for many years depending on the treaty country and can be renewed indefinitely.
Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 can accompany E1 treaty traders and employees to the United States even if they do not have the same nationality. Spouses of E1 treaty traders or employees can apply for work authorization while in the United States and children can attend private and public schools but generally cannot work.
What is E1 Visa USA through Examples and Discussion
To better understand what an E1 Visa USA is and how it works, it is important to consider some scenarios.
For example, let us say you have a store in Canada that sells kitchenware. You often buy the kitchenware from two U.S. suppliers located in California and Florida and you import about $250,000 worth of goods annually from these two suppliers which represent 80% of your imports each year. Because your business is doing well and you want to expand your business in Canada, you want to come to the United States to negotiate new deals with your U.S. suppliers and secure new suppliers. To achieve your goals, you can consider applying for an E1 Visa because this is the type of trade the E1 Visa USA is intended for.
In another example, let us say you have a call center in the United Kingdom that provides services for the automotive industry and dealers and dealerships in the U.S. Your UK company offer call center solutions to dealerships across the United States in Michigan, Florida and Illinois. You would like to acquire new U.S. clients in Idaho and California and you want to come to the United States to negotiate new contracts. Based on the services your UK company provides to US customers, you can consider an E1 Visa USA.
From the examples above and as is the case with this visa, a foreign company must be doing business in their country and exchange some goods or services with a U.S. company continuously in order for the E1 Visa USA to be a viable immigration option.
Even more, the trading relationship between the foreign company and the United States must already exist for some time, usually at least one year.
Moreover, while a foreign company can set up a branch office in the United States to qualify for the E1 Visa, the international trade between the US company and the foreign company must continue for purposes of E1 Visa. In the example above with the kitchenware store in Canada, if you set up a new store in California, you must still export to Canada at least 50% of the volume of kitchenware to comply with the terms of the E1 Visa.
Finally, at least 50% of the foreign company’s international trade must be between the United States and the treaty country of the foreign company. In short, this means that the domestic trade the foreign company engages in in its country is irrelevant for the E1 Visa USA.
In the example above with the store in Canada, you can prove that the company meets the E1 visa level of trade because 80% of the trading activity was with the United States even if the store was purchasing the rest of the 20% from Canadian suppliers. In fact, in this case, if the foreign trade was only with the United States, then 100% of trading activity would be with the United States and the company can qualify for an E1 Visa USA because its 20% domestic activity is not counted towards the foreign trade level. To learn more about the requirements for the E1 Visa visit our dedicated article here
What are the benefits of E1 Visa USA?
For those who can qualify for this type of visa, the E1 Visa offers many benefits including:
- Applicant and spouse can live and work in USA
- Children can attend private and public schools, universities and colleges
- Travel outside the United States and re-enter
- Unlimited E-1 Visa USA renewals
- No investment required.
- No requirement to have a physical office in the United States.
- No requirement for a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate relation to exist.
- Cost effective and simple application process. You can apply for the E1 Visa USA directly with the U.S. Consulate abroad, without having to apply first with USCIS, pay additional USCIS fees and wait more time. The U.S. Consulates approve the E1 Visa based on past trade activity with the United States and not prospective activity. However, if you are in the United States and want to change status to E1, then you will need to apply with USCIS and pay the required fees.
Malescu Law can assist
Our experienced business and immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA can assist you with understanding what is E1 Visa USA, assess whether you can qualify for the E1 Visa, guide you through the application process, prepare the required documentation and strategy, and explore other business visa options suitable for your circumstances. Contact us or book a consultation!
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