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What is an E-1 Visa?

An E-1 is a visa for a foreign citizen of a “treaty trader” country, coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade occurring principally between the U.S. and the foreigner’s country of nationality. Key employees of the business may also obtain this visa.

There is no set amount in the Regulations that qualifies as substantial. An investment of at least $200,000 is usually considered substantial

Who qualifies for an E-1 Visa?

You may be eligible for an E-1 visa if you are:

  • An executive, manager or specialist in a treaty nation company operating in the U.S., or own 50 percent of the company
  • A citizen of a treaty trade country, and are involved in international trade
  • A citizen of the treaty country and own at least 50 percent of the stock of the company, i.e., the firm has the nationality of the treaty country

What are the benefits of applying under this visa category?

An advantage of the E-1 visa over work visas like H-1B is that any specific educational background is not required. You may also travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously until your E-1 visa expires. The E-1 visa may be valid for up to 5 years, with the chance of a 2-year extension. The duration of status, however, can only be for a maximum of 2 years, which means that the E-1 visa holder has to depart the U.S. and re-enter to extend their status or apply for an extension of status by filing such an application in the U.S. A big advantage over H-1B and L-1A / L-1B is that you may extend the E-1 indefinitely.

How can an attorney help in this process?

E-1 visa applications are difficult to compile and can be extremely time-intensive. Proving “substantial investment” is also difficult when the amount of investment is lower than the benchmark amount. In such cases, a strong argument must be made that such investment is substantial in the particular business environment. Knowledge of what the immigration service or department of state wants to receive from the petitioner is vital to success. Working with a business immigration attorney is vital in guaranteeing the success of this process.