E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees


Certain countries have a treaty with the United States which creates qualification for this temporary nonimmigrant visa for traders, managers, executives, and essential skills employees of a trading enterprise that shares their nationality.


The trade organization must be able to document substantial trade with the United States, which is shown by a volume of transactions over a period of time proving majority trade with the U.S. Although the law does not specify an amount, a business immigration attorney may recommend the volume of trade be at least $10,000 over multiple transactions on a monthly basis to minimize the potential for issues.

The sponsoring business must be owned at least 50% by citizens of the same treaty country who are not dual U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. For example, it’s not uncommon for a U.S. citizen to partner 50/50 with a treaty national to facilitate this immigration strategy for the treaty national and other managers, executives, and essential skills employees who may be needed from the same country.

Can My Spouse Work?

Spouses of E-1 visa holders have free market work authorization in the United States “incident to status,” which means that they can start working upon arrival without having to apply for an employment authorization document or work permit.

Application Process

The E-1 visa application may be filed directly with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad with jurisdiction over the applicant’s citizenship or residence. Processing times can range from 1-12 months depending upon the consular post.

Green Card Pathway?

E-1 visa holders who wish to pursue permanent residency often do so under the EB-1C Multinational Manager/Executive or EB-5 Immigrant Investor “green card” categories. E-1 employees who do not have ownership in the business may also qualify for a PERM Labor Certification based immigrant petition under EB-2 or EB-3 categories.

The above is informational and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with an experienced business immigration attorney on your specific facts and circumstances before proceeding with any U.S. immigration strategy.