E-1 Treaty Traders

The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the U.S. to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

Qualifications of a Treaty Trader

To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Carry on substantial trade
  • Carry on principal trade between the U.S. and the treaty country that qualified the treaty trader as an E-1

Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the U.S. and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, technology and its transfer, and news-gathering activities.

Substantial trade generally refers to the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction. While monetary value of transactions is an important factor in considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value.

Principal trade between the U.S. and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country.

E-1 Treaty Trader Country List

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea (South), Kosovo, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of (FRY), Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia

Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Trader

To qualify for E-1 classification, the employee of a treaty trader must:

  • Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under the relevant law
  • Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

If the principal alien employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the U.S. who have the nationality of the treaty country. These owners must be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty trader status. If the owners are not in the U.S. then they must be classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty traders.

Duties which are of an executive or supervisory character are those which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it.

Special qualifications are skills which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the business. There are several qualities or circumstances which could, depending on the facts, meet this requirement. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations
  • Whether others possess the employee’s specific skills
  • The salary that the special qualifications can command
  • Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States

Knowledge of a foreign language and culture alone does not meet this requirement. In some cases a skill that is essential at one point in time may eventually become commonplace and therefore no longer qualifying.

Period of Stay

Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. However, all E-1 nonimmigrants must maintain an intention to depart the U.S. when their status expires. An E-1 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the U.S.

Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees

Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee. These family members may seek E-1 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization.