E1 Visa – How to Apply for the US Treaty Trader Visa

E1 Visa – what is the application process?

The E1 Treaty Trader visa is available to citizens of countries who have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the USA and is for the purpose of engaging in ‘substantial’ trade principally between the USA and the relevant Treaty country.

It is a nonimmigrant visa and carries an initial maximum period of stay of 2 years. Extensions may be requested up to 2 years, with no limit on the number of extensions that may be granted if suitable trading activities are still in place.

Before applying, you first need to ensure you and your company are E1 visa-eligible.

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What are the eligibility criteria for the E1 Visa?

To be eligible for an E1 visa as a Treaty Trader:

  • The applicant and/or company must hold the nationality of the relevant treaty country
  • Persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the company
  • Activity must qualify as ‘trade’ under
  • Trade between the treaty national company and the US must be evidenced as ‘substantial’
  • Trade is principally between the treaty nation and the US
  • The applicant intends to depart the US at the end of the visa

‘Substantial’ trade, in this context, is defined as ongoing sizable international trade involving numerous transactions. There is no set monetary value or number of transactions.

If you are seeking E1 status as an employee of the trading business, there are further eligibility criteria:

  • You must be of the same nationality as the Treaty Trader or your principal employer.
  • You must meet the relevant legal definition of ‘employee’.
  • You must be employed in an executive or supervisory role or have special qualifications.

How to apply for an E1 Visa

Before any individual application can be made for an E-1 visa, the company must first apply to be registered as an E-1 treaty trader business.

An application evidencing the foreign company’s eligibility must be filed at a US consular post abroad along with an initial E-1 employee visa application.

Filing requirements vary from post to post, and processing times can fluctuate based on consular workload. Generally, you should expect the process to involve:

Filing your individual petition

You will need to complete the Online Non-immigrant Visa Application form DS-160 and the DS-156E.

Once you have completed your online application process, print off the confirmation sheet to provide at your interview.

Visit the Visa Appointment Service website to create an account, pay the machine-readable visa (MRV) application fee, and arrange the return of your passport once you have attended your visa interview. You will need to retain a copy of your MRV fee receipt.

Submitting supporting documentation

The next step is to gather and submit supporting documents electronically.

The documentation you submit will be critical in determining if your application will be granted.

You must meet the requirements in terms of the type of evidence you provide and the format you provide it in. Any errors or issues with your supporting documents are likely to result in delays or even refusal of your application. Take legal advice if you have any questions or concerns about the information you should be submitting.

As a guide, supporting documents include:

Section A: Cover letter
A cover letter which describes your enterprise and proves your eligibility for the E1 Treaty Trader visa. You should include information such as:

  • who will benefit from the enterprise
  • details of your Treaty country nationality
  • the trade activities you will take part in
  • that the trade is substantial
  • that the trade will mainly be between the USA and the related Treaty country
  • if an employee, that the role will be executive, supervisory or require special skills essential to the enterprise’s operation
  • your intention to leave the USA when your E1 status comes to an end

Section B: Forms
You must provide the following:

  • the confirmation sheet from your DS-160 application form
  • parts 1, 2 and 3 of the DS-156E form
  • copy of the MRV fee payment receipt
  • if an employee, a letter on company letterhead that details the company, the job title and role, salary with all allowances and benefits, employee qualifications for the job, company’s contact information
  • if using a legal representative, a letter of agreement between the Treaty Trader and the representative

Section C: Applicant Information
You should provide the following:

  • colour photocopy of the biometric data page of your passport (the page that shows your photo)
  • colour photocopies of any US visas, US entry/exit stamps and I-94s
  • copy of any changes of extension of USCIS granted status
  • if from the UK, evidence of your ongoing residence in the UK
  • your resume or curriculum vitae
  • copies of your educational certificates, diplomas and transcripts
  • your signed statement of intent to leave the USA when your E1 status comes to an end

Section D: Ownership
To prove ownership of the enterprise, you should provide:

  • Articles of Incorporation (for corporations), Articles of Organisation (for LLCs) or equivalent documents for a US business
  • Operating Agreement, share certificates, share ledgers or other documents that may prove ownership
  • colour photocopies of the biometric pages of the passports of the ultimate parent company owners
  • where the US business is a subsidiary or affiliate of a foreign corporation, incorporation and ownership documents should be provided
  • where the foreign company is based in the UK, a copy of their most recent Companies House AR01 report should be provided
  • where the company is large with several owners or subsidiaries, or where the chain of ownership includes intermediaries, provide a full ownership structure organogram and legal proof of ownership within that chain
  • where the investor is a public company with many shareholders (none owning more than 50%), provide an affidavit signed by the relevant corporate official confirming that the company is traded exclusively on the relevant stock exchange and a copy of the latest stock trading information

Section E: Trade
You should provide:

  • spreadsheet of every qualifying transaction of international trade between the Treaty country and the USA during the previous year, including data, invoice number, dollar value, total number and value of transactions and summary
  • copies of all invoices mentioned in the spreadsheet
  • copies of all shipping invoices or air bills as proof that the good or services moved between the two countries
  • for a US entity, the latest US federal tax returns or where the entity has a different nationality, the equivalent document, signed by the appropriate government official

Once all of the above have been submitted, your case will be accepted for review and an email confirming receipt will be sent to you or your representative.

Your application will now be reviewed to ensure it is eligible for an E1 visa. The period of review is likely to take up to 30 days.

Once your case has been reviewed, either you or your representative will be informed. At this point, additional documents may be requested and you will be told of appointment availability at your local Embassy or Consulate. You must attend an interview within 90 days of this notification.

Applying as an employee of an E1 business

If you are applying as an employee of an E1 status business, it isn’t necessary to submit your supporting documents electronically. Instead, bring them along to your interview.

These should include:

  • confirmation page of the DS-160 form
  • completed form DS-156E, part 3
  • your appointment confirmation page
  • your passport or travel document
  • a suitable colour photograph (5 x 5 cm)
  • if from the UK, evidence of your status
  • details of any previously issued US visa
  • a letter on company letterhead that describes the company, the job title and role, salary with all allowances and benefits, employee qualifications for the job, company’s contact information
  • organisational chart which shows your position in the company and who you report to
  • curriculum vitae or resume
  • copies of educational certificates, diplomas and transcripts
  • copy of the approval letter for the registered Treaty company
  • signed and dated statement of intent that you will leave the USA when your E1 status comes to an end
  • if already living in the US without a valid E visa, a photocopy of the I-797 Notice of Action stating the change of USCIS granted status
  • documents to explain any change in name by deed poll
  • a police certificate if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted
  • a doctor’s letter if you have any medical condition which could affect your eligibility for a US visa
  • where you have been denied into the US, or been deported or removed, documents providing details

Terms and Conditions of E1 status

A Treaty Trader, or employee acting on their behalf, come under certain terms and conditions to maintain their E1 status:

  • As a Treaty Trader, you may only work on the activity approved when the E1 visa was granted.
  • As an employee, you may also work for the Treaty Trader’s parent company or one of its subsidiaries on the condition that there is an established relationship between the two businesses, the role requires executive, supervisory or essential skills, and the terms and conditions of the employment have not changed in some other way.

E1 visa applications – NNU can help!

NNU’s specialist US immigration attorneys can assist in the process of making your application for an E1 visa by gathering supporting documentation, assisting in the completion of forms, and communicating with the relevant authorities on your behalf.

If you have a question about the E1 visa, or any other US immigration related matter, please contact us for advice.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

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