E1 visas are authorized for nationals of countries with which the United States has a commercial treaty, who are coming to the U.S. solely to engage in trade of a substantial nature principally between the United States and their country of nationality. The trade involved must be international exchange (successfully negotiated contracts binding on all parties) of items of trade between the US and a treaty country. Title to the trade item must pass from one treaty party to the other.
If you are inside the US, use form I-129 to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. If you wish to speed up the processing of your petition, you may wish to use USCIS’ premium processing procedure.
This classification does not require a petition for employment if the applicant is outside of the US. Those outside of the US, apply for E1 visas at a US consular office abroad.
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E1 VISA – APPLICATION DOCUMENT REQUIREMENTS
An application for an E1 visa must be filed with the appropriate fee payment, and evidence that:
- The applicant is a national of a country with whom the US has the requisite treaty or agreement;
- The activity constitutes trade as defined at 214.2(e)(9);
- The trade is of a substantial nature, i.e. an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of trade items between the US and the treaty country;
- The trade conducted by the alien is principally trade between the United States and the treaty country of which the alien is a national. Trade is deemed to be principally between the US and treaty country when over 50% of the volume of international trade conducted by the alien treaty trader is between the US and treaty country of which the alien is a national;
- If the applicant is not the principal trader, that the alien is employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possesses special qualifications that make the alien’s services essential to the successful and efficient operation of the enterprise.
- The applicant intends to depart the US upon the expiration of E-1 status. (However, an application for initial admission, change of status, or extension of stay in E classification may not be denied solely on the basis of an approved request for permanent labor certification or a filed or approved immigrant visa preference petition.)
- The employee has the same nationality as the principal alien employer.
- The alien employer is an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons having the nationality of the treaty country.
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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