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E-1 Visa Eligibility and Application Process: Guidance from JQK Law Firm

2 Feb, 2024

The E-1 Visa, known as the Treaty Trader Visa, is a nonimmigrant visa category for nationals of countries with which the United States maintains commerce and navigation treaties. It permits individuals to enter and work in the U.S. based on a trade relationship between the United States and the trader’s respective country. This visa is specifically designed for employees, managers, and business owners who need to stay in the U.S. for extended periods to oversee or work for an enterprise engaged in international trade with the U.S.

Understanding the scope and requirements of the E-1 Visa is crucial for those looking to leverage international trade opportunities. It is a gateway for robust economic exchange, allowing treaty traders and their employees to manage their import or export-oriented businesses within U.S. borders. Given the complexities of immigration law and the specifics of treaty trader agreements, potential applicants frequently seek experienced and skilled legal advice to navigate the process.

We at JQK Law Firm take pride in offering comprehensive legal representation to clients seeking an E-1 Treaty Trader Visa. Our competent team is highly knowledgeable in the nuances of immigration law and dedicated to assisting clients with their E-1 Visa applications to ensure compliance with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) standards and regulations.

Eligibility Criteria for the E-1 Visa

Applicants must fulfill specific criteria to acquire an E-1 Treaty Trader Visa.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) outlines the requirements for an E-1 visa. They are explained in detail in 8 CFR 214.2(e)(9) – 8 CFR 214.2(e)(11). The requirements are highlighted as follows.

Treaty Requirements

Firstly, the individual must be a national of a treaty country; that is, the applicant’s country of citizenship must have a commercial treaty of navigation and commerce with the United States or some other qualifying international agreement or must be deemed an eligible country by legislation. The treaty requirement is the primary qualification requirement for an E-1 visa. Eligibility is strictly tied to these international agreements.

Substantial Trade

Treaty applicants must carry out substantial trade with the US. Substantial trade means the continuous flow of sizable international trade items. This often involves numerous transactions over time. The monetary value of trade transactions is relevant when considering substantiality. However, US immigration services generally give more weight to the occurrence of numerous valuable transactions.

The sale of goods and services and the transfer of technology can constitute trade. For instance, international banking, transportation, tourism, and even news-gathering activities count as trade activities. 

Principal Trade between the US and the Treaty Country

Beyond the nationality and trade requirements, the applicant’s company must carry out principal trade with the United States. This means that over 50% of the volume of the treaty trader’s international trade should be between the US and their country of nationality.

Additional Requirements

  • The company for which the applicant works must be at least 50% owned by nationals of the treaty country.
  • The applicant’s role in the company must be supervisory or executive, or they must possess skills that are essential to the company’s operation.

Skilled workers, professionals, and other individuals with specialized knowledge or experience improve their chances of visa acceptance by demonstrating the essential nature of their skills to the business’s operations within the United States.

Application Process for the E-1 Visa

Applying for the E-1 visa will require you to go through the following stages:

Determining Eligibility

Firstly, you must ensure your eligibility. Being a national of a treaty country is essential. You must also ensure that your company and its activities meet the eligibility requirements. You can schedule a consultation with us to clarify this before moving to the next step.

Consular Processing

The required next step varies depending on where you are applying from and the particular U.S. embassy or consulate you will apply from if you are outside the U.S. As such, it is best to consult your local embassy’s website if you are applying from outside the U.S. So, for example, Mexican applicants can get accurate direction from the U.S. embassy in Mexico’s guide on E-1 visa applications. However, generally, consular processing involves the following next steps:

  • Completing the Form DS-160, the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application. This requirement applies to the principal applicant and all family members who will accompany them.
  • Next, applicants outside the U.S. will need to schedule a visa interview and pay the application fee.
  • At the interview, the consular officer decides if the applicant has sufficiently satisfied the visa requirements. It is discretionary, so the officer can choose to grant or deny the visa. If granted, you will be able to seek entry into the United States. Otherwise, you will not be able to appeal. However, you may reapply.

Changing of Status

E-1 visa applicants who are already legally in the United States on a temporary visa can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the USCIS to request a change of their status.

Remember, professional legal advice can often be beneficial while navigating the detailed procedure of applying for an E-1 visa. Seeking counsel from our E-1 Visa lawyer can provide invaluable insight into making your application robust. Book a consultation with us to learn more about JQK Law Firm’s comprehensive legal services.

E-1 Visa for Family Members

Certain family members of E-1 visa applicants can seek E-1 dependent classification. This will allow them to enter the U.S. with the principal applicant and stay for as long as the primary applicant is granted leave. Only spouses and unmarried children under 21 can accompany the primary visa holder. These family visas ensure that families can stay together while the primary visa holder conducts trade and business on behalf of their treaty enterprise. According to the USCIS’s E-1 Treaty Traders:

  • Spouses of E-1 workers are considered ‘work authorized incident to status.’ As such, they can take up employment in the United States without needing to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. However, they may file it to get a work authorization document they can present to employers.
  • Children of E-1 workers are permitted to study but are not eligible for employment.

JQK Law Firm: Your Partner in E-1 Visa Success

At JQK Law Firm, our practice is focused on guiding clients through the complexities of the immigration process. Our skilled attorneys understand the nuances of immigration law and are experienced in representing individuals applying for all classes of E visas, including the E-1 treaty trader visa.

Who We Serve:

  • Business Owners and Key Employees: We assist those intending to carry on substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country.
  • Spouses and Children: Our services extend to the immediate family members of E-1 Visa holders, ensuring they can accompany the principal visa holder.

Our Services Include:

  • A thorough assessment of your eligibility for an E-1 Visa, which is available to traders from treaty countries.
  • Examining your eligibility for other visa classifications like the E-2 treaty investor visa.
  • Preparing and compiling all necessary documentation that clearly demonstrates your trade is substantial and primarily between the US and the treaty country.
  • Guiding you through the visa application process and keeping you informed about any updates on your case.
  • Offering legal advice to maintain your nonimmigrant visa status and ensure compliance with all United States immigration regulations.

Benefits of Working with Us:

  • We maintain open communication with our clients, giving you peace of mind during the visa application.
  • Our attorneys are trained to unravel the intricacies of immigration law, allowing for a smooth transition for our clients and their families.
  • We provide bespoke legal strategies tailored to meet each client’s unique needs, ensuring the best possible outcome.

We are your steadfast allies at JQK Law Firm. We work tirelessly to secure your success in obtaining an E-1 Visa. This is evidenced by the numerous immigration application approvals we have secured for our clients. We aim to facilitate your journey to the United States and aid your trade endeavors. 

Contact JQK Law Firm: Your One-Stop Immigration Law Firm

If your enterprise is engaged in substantial trade with the United States, or if you’re an executive or essential employee of such a company, the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa may be your route to entry into the US. You can also explore E-2 Visa options with JQK Law Firm if you are not sure the E-1 visa route is the best for you.

Our team, led by experienced legal professionals, is committed to helping you navigate the visa application process. For inquiries and to discuss your application, please contact us. Your trade and investment aspirations deserve the meticulous attention to detail that JQK Law Firm provides.

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