Throughout the history, we have seen United States have signed innumerable treaties, especially treaties strengthening “Friendship, Commerce and Navigation” with other countries. The sole purpose of these treaties was to encourage trade and investment and maintain good and peaceful relation between the country signing the treaty and US.
The E1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows foreigners, from a nation which has signed such a treaty with the US, to enter the US and establish international trade. This visa can be issued to any national or company from a treaty nation.
Eligibility Requirements of E1 or Investor Visa
- Only those people who fulfill the following eligibility criteria may apply for the trader visa:
- Specialists, executives or managers of a treaty nation company which is functioning in US OR
- If an applicant owns 50% share of the treaty nation company OR
- If the company has the nationality of the treaty nation – has at least 50% ownership by the treaty nation or treaty nation nationals OR
- A citizen from the treaty nation in the US and involved in international trade OR
- Immediate family member of an E1 visa holder.
Duration of Stay on an E1 Visa
Initially, an applicant for an E1 Visa has to prove that when the visa status expires or is terminated, he/she is willing to leave the United States.
The E1 visa is primarily valid for 2 years and has provision of being extended for a period of 2 years at a time. There is no limit to the number of extensions that the visa holder can apply for. An E1 visa holder returning from abroad automatically is admitted into the US for a period of 2 years and therefore does not need to apply for an extension. This extension is not applicable to the family members, unless they too have traveled abroad with the primary applicant and are re-entering with him/her.
Acquiring an E1 Visa
If the applicant who is a treaty trader is presently in the US on a different nonimmigrant status, he/she can file Form I-129 to change status to an E1 visa. A qualifying employer can file Form I-129 on behalf of the employee if the employee is a treaty nation employee and is present in the US on a different nonimmigrant status.
Applicants outside the US need to file their application for this visa at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate where they will have to appear for an interview as part of the application process. Each application must be appropriately documented along with necessary supportive legal documents attached with the form, to prove that all the lawful requirements are met. The website of the Embassy or Consulate where the application needs to be filed will have all the required information.
Spouses and children (unmarried and below the age of 21) of the E1 visa holder can also get E1 visas. The spouses of E 1visa holders are entitled to apply for work authorization in the US. They are not bound by restrictions on where they can work.
Treaty Trader Countries Eligible for the E1 Visa
Some of the countries that are eligible to apply for E1 visa are mentioned below:
Argentina, Austria, Australia, Aruba, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Gibraltar, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Iran, Jordan, Japan, Liberia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Macedonia, Norway, the Netherlands Antilles, the Netherlands, New Caledonia, Oman, Paraguay, Pakistan, Poland, the Philippines, Singapore, Serbia and Montenegro, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, South Korea, Suriname, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, Togo, the United Kingdom and the Territory of Wallis .
Benefits of E1 Visa
- With E1 visa, an individual can freely travel from and to the United States.
- Work in US lawfully for the United States company where 50% or more of the business is trade related between the aspirant’s home country and the United States.
- As long as the visa requirements are met, the E1 visa owner can stay in the US on an extended period based on unlimited 2 year extensions.
- The aspirant can bring along his/her spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 as dependents and they too are eligible to apply for extensions, as long as the primary E1 visa holder is in the US.