E-1 and E-2 Visas are non-immigrant visas available to citizens from countries that maintain a friendship treaty or a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. A list of treaty countries is held by the US Department of State, and the nationals of certain countries may be eligible for either E-1 or E-2 visa status, or both.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa
E-1 visas allow a national of a treaty country (treaty trader) to work and reside in the United States when engaging in international trade with his / her country of origin.
E-1 visa status may be granted if:
- The treaty trader is a national of a treaty country
- The treaty trader carries on “principal” trade with his / her country of origin
- The trade must be “substantial”
For individual owners, it’s easy to prove they are a national of a treaty country by enclosing a copy of the individual’s passport to the visa application. However, business is generally conducted under the umbrella of a corporation or a limited liability company. Because of this, it becomes essential to understand how the nationality requirement works in case of a business entity.
E visa regulations state that a business entity, although created in the United States, is deemed to be a national of a treaty country if at least 50% of its ultimate individual members or shareholders are nationals of such country. The applicants are required to prove they are a national of a treaty country and can do so by locating the ultimate individual shareholders at the very end of the company’s chain of ownership and providing the US Consulate with evidence of their citizenship.
For example, if the trader is a US entity wholly owned by a UK company, with at least 50% Italian ultimate individual shareholders, the US entity will be deemed to hold Italian nationality. The Italian shareholders (or their Italian employees) will be eligible to obtain an E-1 visa as long as the U.S. entity is engaged in principal and substantial trade with Italy.
E-1 Visa Trade requirements
Definition of Trade: An exchange of goods or services for a profit. It may include commercial goods, services, insurance and banking, data exchange, consulting services, tourism and much more.
Substantial Trade: Trade is required to be continuous (i.e. consisting of numerous transactions over a certain period of time) and of a certain monetary value. No minimum value requirement is set for each transaction. The volume should not be insignificant and the more that can be shown, the better.
Principal Trade: Trade conducted with the treaty country should account for at least 50% of the total revenues deriving from international commerce. Revenues from trade within the United States should not be taken into consideration in order to calculate such 50%.
E-1 Visa Treaty Trader’s Employees Requirements
E-1 visa status may be granted if:
- The employee holds the same nationality as the treaty trader
- The employee is employed in an executive or managerial position or in a position that requires special skills or qualifications
Status of a E-1 Treaty Trader and Its Employees
A Treaty Trader or a Treaty Trader’s employee may work exclusively for the trading company or its parent or subsidiary company. The relationship between parent and subsidiary company should be well established.
E-1 Visa Duration and Length of Stay
E-1 Visa has a 5 year duration and may be renewed indefinitely as long as the above described requirements, as to nationality of the company and international trade, are still being met. The initial period of stay is a maximum of 2 years. The stay may be automatically extended for periods of up to 2 years by departing and returning to the United States.
E-1 Visa Holder Family Members
Treaty traders and their employees may be followed by their family members, i.e. spouses or underage children. The spouse of an E-1 may obtain authorization to work in the United States without limitations by filing form I-765, while the children may only be enrolled in school. Typically, family members are granted the same period of stay as the treaty trader or their employees.
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