What Is An E-1 Visa?
An E-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows certain nationals from qualifying treaty countries to live and work in the U.S., specifically to engage in international trade activities. Depending on the circumstances, family members of qualifying applicants may also be eligible for an E-1 visa classification.
Benefits Of An E-1 Visa
For qualifying individuals, the E-1 visa offers many benefits. A few of the most commonly cited reasons for obtaining an E-1 visa include:
- Faster processing time
- E-1 visa holders, like other nonimmigrant visa holders, can travel in and out of the U.S. as much as they like
- E-1 visas can be renewed an unlimited number of times every two years
- E-1 visa holders who travel outside of the U.S. are typically given an automatic two-year extension upon their return
- Immediate family members (i.e., spouse and unwed children under 21) of E-1 visa holders can accompany them to the U.S.
- The spouse of an E-1 visa holder can obtain work authorization allowing the spouse to work for any employer in the U.S.
- There are fewer requirements for employment-based E-1 visa holders
It’s important to note that an E-1 visa does not lead to permanent residency. E-1 visa applicants must intend to return to their home country once their business or status concludes.
If you’re interested in visa options that lead directly to a green card, we can help. Contact Garvish Immigration Law Group today to discuss the detail of your case.
E-1 Visa Application Process
Applying From Inside The U.S.
Applications for E-1 visas are accepted from abroad and within the US. If you’re already in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status, you can apply for change of status to request E-1 classification by filing Form I-129 with USCIS (if you’re directly engaging in trade).
If you’re an employee, your company must file Form I-129 on your behalf. Additionally, all applicants must submit the required fees and documentation to USCIS and await a response.
Applying From Outside The U.S.
If you’re currently outside the U.S., you can apply at the Consulate abroad. The application process is more complicated and lengthy. Generally, applying for an E-1 Treaty Trader classification outside the U.S. requires applicants to take the following steps:
- Complete and File Form DS-160
- Pay all applicable fees
- Schedule your interview to obtain your visa appointment letter
- Compile the required documentation
- Attend the interview
- Await a decision
The time it takes to process an E-1 visa application depends on whether you apply within the U.S. or outside of the U.S. and many other factors.
Qualifications For An E-1 Visa
Generally, qualifying for E-1 non-immigrant visas requires the following but is not limited to:
- Be a national of a qualifying treaty country
- Engage in substantial trade
- Engage in principal trade between the U.S. their qualifying country
Additionally, employees must work for a company that’s at least 50% owned by citizens of the qualifying treaty country. Further, employees seeking an E-1 Treaty Trader visa must hold a senior position within the company (i.e., C-suite executive, high-level manager, etc.).
Items of trade that typically qualify under the E-1 Treaty Trader include goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, technology, tourism, technology, and more.
What Qualifies as Substantial and Principal Trade?
USCIS defines Substantial Trade as:
Substantial trade generally refers to an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the United States and the treaty country. The continuous flow contemplates numerous transactions over time.
USCIS defines Principal Trade as:
Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the volume of international trade of the treaty trader is between the United States and the treaty country of the treaty trader’s nationality.
Contact Our E-1 Visa Attorneys
If you’re considering an E-1 business visa for yourself or an employee, E-2 – Treaty Investor Visa or non-immigrant, employment-based immigration service, we’re here to help. Our Atlanta business immigration lawyers can guide you through the complete process.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced Atlanta business immigration lawyer you can trust. Garvish Immigration Law Group specializes in helping corporate and individual clients worldwide gain access to the U.S. via qualifying business, employment and family-based visas.
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