The E1 Visa: Process & Requirements

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E1 Visa Requirements and Advantages


Travel Flexibility

Allows traders to enter and exit the U.S. multiple times during the validity of the visa. Live or stay up to two years at a time.


Bring Your Family

E1 visa holders can bring a spouse and unmarried minor children to the U.S. Your spouse can work, and your children can go to school.


No Investment Needed

The E1 visa is based on previous and ongoing trade. No additional investment is needed for the E1 visa.

Find out if you and your business are eligible for an E1 visa:

1. Are you from a treaty country?

This is the most important factor for this visa. Note that some countries that do not allow for the E2 visa WILL allow for the E1 visa (and vice versa), so even if you think you may not be from a treaty country, check out the list to be sure.

2. Do you have ongoing trade with the U.S.?

This is also crucial. Your current business should be either importing or exporting with the U.S. on a continuous basis. NOTE – This does NOT mean that you must be trading goods. You could also be trading services. If you own a service-based business in your home country, but many of your clients are living in the U.S., you may meet this requirement.

3. The trade of services/goods must be primarily between your home country (where you have a passport) and the U.S.

This means that trade between your home country and all other countries in the world should be less than 50% of the trade. As an example, if you have a company in the U.K. that buys goods from China and resells those goods to customers in the U.K. and customers in the U.S., you must show that you sell more in the U.S. than you import from China.

4. Is there a history of trade with the U.S.?

The E1 visa is based upon previous and ongoing trade. Therefore, the consulate will want to see proof that you already are importing or exporting goods or services to the U.S. This includes receipt, invoices, bills of lading, etc.

5. Is the trade substantial and continuous?

An eligible E1 application will show that his/her existing trade with the U.S. is substantial and continuous. For some businesses, this may be easy: importing $2,000,000 worth of pet supplies per year to the U.S. with multiple imports per month (an actual client). However, with others, it may be a little less obvious. Still, an E1 visa can be approved with smaller trades. Our recommendation for trade minimums is the following:

  • At least $150,000 worth of trade between your home country and the U.S. in the last 12 months (this could be more if your domestic business is more than $500,000 per year)
  • At least 6 separate trades
  • For those providing services to U.S. clients, you should be able to show at least 3 separate clients PLUS meet the two recommendations, above.

Contact an E1 Visa Attorney

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