E-1 Treaty Trader Visa Requirements

Posted November 25, 2011

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides non-immigrant visa status for a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, and who is coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the U.S. and the treaty country.  8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(E)

The principle legal requirements are:

  • The trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the U. S. must have the nationality of the treaty country;
  • The international trade must be substantial in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade;
  • The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that more than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant’s nationality;
  • Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology;
  • Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other outside of the U.S.; and
  • The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm.  Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.

We have substantial experience with both E-1 Treaty Traders and E-2 Treaty Investors.  As a general rule, the potential foreign trader or investor should not let the tail wag the dog, i.e., don’t set out to start a business in the United States with the primary goal of obtaining a visa merely because you want to live (and earn income) here.  As any prudent entrepreneur would, start with a business plan and a comparative advantage in an identifiable market segment.  Become acutely familiar with the United States and business practices and regulations.  Conduct diligent research into markets and competition.  Assuming the trader or investor is not investing their entire net worth into the enterprise – a disqualifying condition under most circumstances – an E-1 or E-2 visa petition will succeed if the business plan is solid, investment amounts are not insubstantial, and the entrepreneur is serious about business success.

Contact us for a consultation.


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