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E1 Visa to Green Card: Which option is right for you?

The E1 visa allows people who work for companies engaged in significant trade with the U.S. to temporarily live and work in the U.S. In this article, we discuss the different paths you can take to transition from an E1 visa to green card.
Green card

While there is no direct path from an E1 visa to a green card, there are alternative paths you can take.

Let’s discuss the E1 visa and the transition process to a green card, so you can weigh out your options and smoothly navigate your path to permanent residency in the U.S.

Interested in learning more about E1 visa? Check out our comprehensive E1 visa guide here.

What is the E1 visa?

The E-1 visa, often known as the “E-1 treaty trader visa“, is a non-immigrant visa specifically designed for individuals employed by companies engaged in substantial trade with the U.S. It enables individuals actively involved in significant trade between the U.S. and their home country to temporarily live and work in the United States.

Why go from E1 visa to green card?

The E1 visa only allows people to temporarily work and live in the U.S. However, one unique feature of the E1 visa is that it can be renewed indefinitely. But, here’s the catch. 

To qualify for an E1 visa extension, you must stay working for the same employer sponsoring the visa, remain engaged in the trade activities, and meet the E1 visa requirements.

Now, if you obtain a green card, you no longer need to deal with the hassle of renewing your E1 visa and meeting all of the requirements. 

Let’s take a look at more advantages of having a green card:

  • Permanent residency: Allows you to work and live in the U.S. indefinitely.
  • Freedom to change jobs: Offers flexibility to change employers (or be self-employed), compared to the E1 visa where you are tied to the employer sponsoring your visa.
  • Family benefits: Gives you the ability to sponsor your family, giving them the ability to work and live in the U.S. permanently.
  • Path to U.S. citizenship: If you meet certain residency requirements, you could obtain U.S. citizenship.

How to go from E1 visa to Green Card

Since the E1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, it doesn’t directly lead to permanent residency in the U.S. (aka, a green card). In order to go from an E1 visa to green card, you will need to take an alternative route. Let’s take a look at some of the potential options!

Path 1: Employment-based green card

Business woman holding a laptop

If a U.S. employer is willing to sponsor you for a green card, you could explore employment-based visa categories such as the EB1 visa, EB2 NIW visa, or EB3 visa.

The EB1 visa is for individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational managers.

The EB2 NIW visa is for individuals who have an advanced degree or exceptional ability, and can show that their work is of national interest to the U.S.

The EB3 visa is for individuals with a full-time job offer that doesn’t have qualified U.S. candidates.

If you fall into any of these visa categories and can meet the necessary requirements, this could be your way to go from an E1 visa to green card!

Path 2: Family-based green card

Two women smiling

Let’s look at another option for transitioning from an E1 visa to green card. If you have close family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, they may be able to sponsor you for a family-based green card. These are generally available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21. Some other family members could qualify, but the wait times are usually longer.

Manifest Tip: Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens generally have a faster process for receiving a family-based green card.

Path 3: Investment-based green card

Businessman in blue suit with his arms crossed

If you’ve got some serious cash and decide to make a minimum investment of $500,000 in a U.S. company, you could be eligible for the EB5 Immigrant Investor Program

One key requirement is that the investment must lead to the creation (or preservation) of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers.

Remember: In order to get permanent residency under the EB5 Green Card, you must show the investment meets the job creation requirements.

E1 Visa to Green Card Processing Time

The timeline for transitioning from an E-1 visa to green card can vary depending on your circumstances, processing times, and the option you choose. Generally speaking, it could take between 18 to 30 months to go from an E1 visa to green card.

One way to shorten the processing time is if you can apply under the EB1 or EB2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) categories. Essentially, you would be skipping the labor certification process, which can be quite lengthy. 

Check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date processing times.

Note: The EB1 (Extraordinary Ability), EB2 NIW, and EB5 Immigrant Investor Green Cards do not require the labor certification process or sponsorship from an employer.

How Manifest Law can help

While the E1 visa doesn’t offer a direct path to a green card, there are different options you could take. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you determine which option is best for you, as the requirements and eligibility for each vary. They can also help you collect all of the right documents and ensure your application is accurate, making the E1 visa to green card process smoother and easier. 

At Manifest Law, our immigration lawyers have extensive experience with all visa types and green card cases, and thoroughly understand the process of going from an E1 visa to green card. We provide flexible payment plans of up to 6 months, a visa-approved or money-back guarantee (terms apply).

Now, let’s get you that green card!

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