Treaty Trader Visa (E-1)


An E-1 treaty trader visa is a nonimmigrant visa, but is renewable for an unlimited number of terms, so this visa offers many opportunities for foreign nationals who do business in the United States. Employees and family members may also qualify for a visa to live in the U.S. through the Treaty Trader program.

Applicants for a new visa or a renewal must prove that they meet the qualifications. The experienced immigration attorneys at the law office of Luis F. Hess, PLLC understand the nuances of this popular visa program and can help you demonstrate your eligibility.

Qualifications for an E-1 Treaty Trader Visa


Treaty trader visas are only available to foreign nationals from a country with the right agreement or treaty currently in force with the U.S. A list of countries with qualifying treaties or other arrangements can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.

Those from eligible countries may receive an E-1 visa if they can demonstrate that they carry on “substantial trade,” and that 50% or more of their trade volume is between the U.S. and the country of their nationality.

What is “Substantial Trade?” for Visa Purposes?

Although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines trade as the “exchange of items,” these items do not have to be something physical. Trade can include services provided for compensation as well. Examples USCIS provides include:

  • Tourism
  • Banking
  • Transportation
  • Insurance
  • Technology and the transfer of technology
  • Certain news-gathering activities

The agency considers trade to be substantial if the amount of trade ensures a continuous flow of transactions over time.

Essentially, there must be enough transactions occurring to justify having the trader or the trader’s employees physically present in the U.S. to manage trade business. It can be challenging to make this showing, so it is wise to work with immigration lawyers who know how to present a business plan that satisfies expectations of immigration officials.

Eligibility for Employees and Family

Certain family members and employees of those eligible for an E-1 Treaty Trader visa may also be eligible for a visa. To qualify, an employee must be of the same nationality as the treaty country, meet the legal definition of an “employee,” and either engage in supervisory or executive duties, or have special attributes that make them essential to the operation. For instance, the employee might have unique abilities or a high degree of expertise in the employer’s business. (Knowledge of a foreign language is not sufficient on its own to meet this standard.)

Treaty traders and their qualifying employees may have spouses and unmarried children accompany them or follow them into the U.S. Children must be under the age of 21 to receive a derivative visa. However, they need not be the same nationality as the Treaty Trader or Qualifying Employee.

An Experienced Immigration Attorney Can Help Obtain a Treaty Trader Visa

You may seek an E-1 Treaty Trader visa while outside the U.S. or you can request a change of status to E-1 once you’re already in the U.S. Regardless of your situation, it is critical to present the right evidence to document your eligibility for this coveted visa.

Whether you are filing an initial application or seeking renewal of your visa, schedule a consultation with Luis F. Hess, PLLC today to learn how one of our knowledgeable visa attorneys could help you achieve your objectives without unnecessary delays or expense.