The United States E-1 Visa - Treaty Trader Visa - How to Apply

The E1 visa or otherwise called the Treaty Trader Visa is a US non-immigrant visa for all those who trade with the US. The trade must be between the US and an E1 visa country with which the US has a trade and investment treaty.

The United States E-1 Visa - Treaty Trader Visa - How to Apply

E-1 Treaty trader visas are available to citizens of foreign countries who wish to come to the United States to conduct trade between their home country and the United States. Qualifying E-1 Treaty Trader visas allow for multiple re-entries, but you must demonstrate that you intend to return to your home country at the end of your stay in the United States and that you have sufficient funds to do so. If you wish to live permanently in the United States, please refer to our article on E-2 Treaty Investor visas.

The E1 visa allows a person who is a sole trader or a company with trade representatives to go to the US and continue the trading operations. The trade can be in any industry, such as transportation, communication, banking, advertising, management, and others. There are no prohibitions in terms of the type of industry that which the trade must occur.

Additionally, the trade for an E1 visa must be substantial. Substantial trade means that the trade of products or services is done in bulk and is continuous. The regulations do not specify a minimum amount of trade that must happen to qualify for an E1 visa, since this differs based on industries.

What is an E-1 visa?

If you’re seeking a US visa, then it is vital that you understand exactly what an E-1 visa is and how it will help you. An E-1 visa, also known as a Treaty Trader Visa, allows nationals of countries with which there is a trade agreement between the US and their country of origin to live and work in America. It enables them to engage in business activities in the US related to goods imported from their home country or elsewhere. In order to qualify for this type of visa, they must be engaged in a commercial enterprise that is either owned by them or controlled by American citizens who are qualified investors.

What is Treaty Trader?

If you’re a citizen of a country with which our government has negotiated a treaty, you may be eligible for an E-1 visa. To qualify as a treaty trader, you must be engaged in substantial international trade and your business must be regularly sending goods between countries. However, Treaty traders are nonimmigrant visas for citizens of countries in which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation

How do I qualify for an E-1 visa?

To qualify for an E-1 visa, you must be a citizen of a country that has signed a treaty with the U.S. and show proof that you are entering into a trade on behalf of your company. A letter from your company stating that you are entering into trade negotiations on their behalf is needed as proof of intent.

The company should have a substantial amount of money in the bank and all or most of its assets should be invested in commercial enterprises in which it deals. You can apply for this type of visa without being interviewed by an officer at the port-of-entry if you’re coming to the U.S. as a bona fide business person who is not going to accept employment while here (source: USCIS).

How to Apply for the E1 Visa?

You can apply for an E1 visa from two places, depending on your situation:

  1. From within the US through USCIS
  2. From outside the US through a US Embassy

Within the US

If you are applying from within the US, you must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, if you will be engaged directly in international trade. If you will be working for someone who is engaged in international trade as a supervisor, manager, or executive, then the company must file Form I-129.

You must also submit filing fees and other documents to prove nationality, trade relationship, and intent to return to your home country. USCIS will then process the request and send you the appropriate response. If your request is granted, USCIS will give you or your employer a Form I-797, Approval Notice.

Outside the US

If you are outside of the US, you must apply through a US Embassy in your home country. Applying from outside the US is a lengthier procedure. It involves the following steps:

File Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application

on this form, it is good for you to know what nonimmigrant visa. Fill in the necessary information and at the end, you will get a confirmation page which you will need later on for your documentation.

Pay the application fee

It is very necessary for the beholder to pay a fee for the E1 visa is $205. You might be asked to pay additional fees such as visa issuance fees or reciprocity fees based on the country you come from.

Schedule your visa interview

This is the best for you to do so you won't get confused and probably miss your date. 
You should schedule your interview as soon as possible to avoid long waits due to the high workload of the US Embassy. All visa applicants over 13 and under 80 years old need to interview with an official of the US Embassy. When you schedule your interview, you will be given a visa appointment letter, which you need to have with you for your interview.

What if I already have a business and want to travel on my own e-2 visa?

A treaty trader visa is intended for a person who plans on starting his or her own business in a foreign country and is trying to bring over employees. If you already have a business established in another country, and you plan on traveling as yourself—instead of your staff—you’ll need an e-2 visa. The first step is applying for a US e-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy in your home country (or at any consulate if you're from Canada).
You'll then be issued with a US Treaty Trader visa, which gives you the authorization to enter the US territory with your family members and perform trade activities while living there.

Is there anything else I should know about applying for an e-1 visa?

If you are traveling as a representative of your company, there is no need to get a visa in advance. However, if you are coming to live permanently in America as a foreign national, or if you’re planning on staying longer than six months and/or working outside of your line of work (for example, moving here for business school and taking a part-time job), you should apply for a treaty trader visa.

How we are going to answer some other relative questions that many foreign business owners do ask when applying for this type of visa.

What document do I need in order to apply for an e-1 treaty trader?

The first thing you’ll need is a sponsoring company. In order to be able to sponsor you, your potential sponsor needs to be a: 1) US citizen or permanent resident; 2) Be doing business in (or have an office in) at least one of these countries: Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea or The Bahamas; 3) Have a primary place of business in any of those countries; 4) Not be applying on behalf of anyone else.

When should I start the process of applying for my e-1 visa?

The application process can take several months so it is best that you start as soon as possible. The first step in obtaining your e-1 visa is to hire a professional business immigration lawyer who will help you through each step of filing paperwork and ensure that your case is properly documented. This initial consultation will help determine if an e-1 visa is right for you and how best to proceed with your particular situation

Can someone help me with my application?

If you’re applying for a visa, it’s imperative that you have someone help with your application. Unlike some visas, there is no onus on you to prove that you can pull off your business plan by yourself. If you don’t have someone vouching for your ability to start and run a successful business, it will be harder to get approved.

Other related posts:

Why the Canadian Business Visa Program is Perfect for Entrepreneurs

Get a UK Business Investor Visa to Live and Work in the UK

The US Business Visa Program – Perfect for Investors, Entrepreneurs & Business Owners

Can I apply for a Green Card with an E1 visa?

However, if you will constantly have to prove your intent to return to your home country after your visa expires and your work is completed, going from an E1 visa to Green Card is difficult. However, it is possible. The easiest way is for you to find a job and an employer willing to sponsor your stay. You can then change your status to an H-1B visa and then apply for a Green Card.

Additionally, if you have family in the US who have permanent residence, you can apply to join them. More difficult manners to obtain permanent residence are through filing as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability or EB-1 person or you can file a National Interest Waiver (NIW) if you have advanced education and training and if you can show that your work will benefit the US. Can I apply for a Green Card with an E1 visa?


Since you will constantly have to prove your intent to return to your home country after your visa expires and your work is completed, going from an E1 visa to Green Card is difficult. However, it is not impossible. The easiest way is for you to find a job and an employer willing to sponsor your stay. You can then change your status to an H-1B visa and then apply for a Green Card.

Can I bring my dependents with an E1 visa?

Yes with an E1 visa you can also bring your dependents to the US. Dependents are the spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old. The dependents can apply for the E1 visa at the same time as the primary E1 person, or afterward.

To apply for the E1 visa as dependents, they must show a relationship with the primary E1 visa holder. This includes birth certificates for children and marriage certificates for spouses. The US does not recognize multiple spouses, so only one marriage certificate is valid. However, same-sex spouses are allowed to apply