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The E-1 non-immigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, or with which the United States maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation) to be admitted to the United States as a foreign worker.
To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:
Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to:
Substantial trade generally refers to an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the United States and the treaty country. The continuous flow contemplates numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction. While monetary value of transactions is a relevant factor in considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value. For smaller businesses, the income derived from the value of numerous transactions which is sufficient to support the treaty trader and their family is a favorable factor.
Concretely, principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the volume of international trade of the treaty trader is between the United States and the treaty country of the treaty trader’s nationality.
To qualify for E-1 classification, the employee of a treaty trader must:
Duties that are of an executive or supervisory character are those that primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the treaty enterprise’s overall operation, or a major component of it.
Special qualifications are skills and/or aptitudes that make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the treaty enterprise. There are several qualities or circumstances that could, depending on the facts, meet this requirement. These include, but are not limited to:
Knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet this requirement. Note that in some cases a skill that is essential at one point in time may become commonplace, and therefore no longer qualifying, at a later date.
Qualified treaty employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of five years. Requests for extension of stay in, or changes of status to, E-1 classification may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. All foreign workers who have an E-1 visa must however maintain their intention to depart the United States when their status expires.
Employees of qualified treaty companies may be accompanied or followed by their spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities does not need be the same as the employee. These family members may seek E-1 non-immigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, they will generally be granted the same period of stay as the employee. Please note that their spouse may also obtain an open work visa.