Investors

E1 Treaty Trader Visa for Investors: Full Guide

The E1 visa is a temporary work visa made for people that work for a company that trades with the U.S. In this E1 visa guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about the E1 visa requirements, processing time, and costs.

Chelsea Spinos, Writer
Simon Craven, Manifest Immigration Lawyer

By:

Chelsea Spinos

Chelsea Spinos is a contributing writer for Manifest Law. She covers all topics related to U.S. visas and green cards. She is passionate about helping people navigate their immigration journey with clarity and confidence.

Reviewer:

Simon Craven, Esq.

Simon Craven is an immigration attorney with 11+ years of experience working on thousands of successful immigration cases. Simon is passionate about US immigration and helping people.

7 min read • Feb 13, 2024

Business professionals smiling and standing
Business professionals smiling and standing
Business professionals smiling and standing

Key takeaways

The E1 visa allows people to manage their trading business in the U.S.

You can stay in the U.S. indefinitely on an E1 visa!

Many different kinds of businesses have E1 visa eligibility

The E1 visa is only for citizens of specific countries with treaties with the U.S.

The E1 visa is eligible for Premium Processing if you are applying from the U.S.

E1 visa lawyers at Manifest Law can help you prepare the full package of documents prior to filing

What is E1 visa?

What is E1 visa?

Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her

The E1 visa, also known as the “E1 treaty visa”, is a temporary work visa made for people that work for a company that trades with the U.S. This visa category allows the people who run a company (and their employees) to live and work in the U.S. to run the trading business. For the E1 visa, trade means selling or buying services or goods, to or from the U.S.


There are two E1 visa requirements:


  1. You have the nationality of a treaty country (see list below), and

  2. You own or work for a company that “trades” good or services with the U.S.


While E1 visa eligibility seems simple, there are very specific definitions of “nationality” and “trade” for an E1 visa.

The L1 visa is a temporary work visa for moving skilled professionals from international organizations to a U.S. company. To meet L1 visa requirements the employee must have worked for the foreign employer for at least one year.


There are two different types of of L1 visas:


  • L1A visa: For Managers and Executives

  • L1B visa: For individuals with “specialized knowledge” about the company’s products, policies, or procedures

The L1 visa is a temporary work visa for moving skilled professionals from international organizations to a U.S. company. To meet L1 visa requirements the employee must have worked for the foreign employer for at least one year.


There are two different types of of L1 visas:


  • L1A visa: For Managers and Executives

  • L1B visa: For individuals with “specialized knowledge” about the company’s products, policies, or procedures

What are the benefits of the E1 visa?

What are the benefits of the E1 visa?

The E1 visa can apply to many types of businesses, and is a flexible option if you meet the basic E1 visa requirements.


Some of the main benefits of the E-1 visa include:


  1. It’s a flexible option for companies involved in international trade.

  2. If you compare E1 visa vs H1B visa, the benefit is that there is no “cap” or “lottery” since there are no limits to the amount of E1 visas.

  3. The E1 visa requirements do not require a foreign company with a qualifying relationship (like the L1 visa).

  4. Your family can join you! (and work in the U.S. as needed)

  5. You can bring employees to help with your business.

  6. The E1 visa can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business continues.


Given these benefits, it's no surprise that people working in different kinds of businesses find the E-1 visa appealing for working in the U.S.


The E1 visa can apply to many types of businesses, and is a flexible option if you meet the basic E1 visa requirements.


Some of the main benefits of the E-1 visa include:


  1. It’s a flexible option for companies involved in international trade.

  2. If you compare E1 visa vs H1B visa, the benefit is that there is no “cap” or “lottery” since there are no limits to the amount of E1 visas.

  3. The E1 visa requirements do not require a foreign company with a qualifying relationship (like the L1 visa).

  4. Your family can join you! (and work in the U.S. as needed)

  5. You can bring employees to help with your business.

  6. The E1 visa can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business continues.


Given these benefits, it's no surprise that people working in different kinds of businesses find the E-1 visa appealing for working in the U.S.


The E1 visa can apply to many types of businesses, and is a flexible option if you meet the basic E1 visa requirements.


Some of the main benefits of the E-1 visa include:


  1. It’s a flexible option for companies involved in international trade.

  2. If you compare E1 visa vs H1B visa, the benefit is that there is no “cap” or “lottery” since there are no limits to the amount of E1 visas.

  3. The E1 visa requirements do not require a foreign company with a qualifying relationship (like the L1 visa).

  4. Your family can join you! (and work in the U.S. as needed)

  5. You can bring employees to help with your business.

  6. The E1 visa can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business continues.


Given these benefits, it's no surprise that people working in different kinds of businesses find the E-1 visa appealing for working in the U.S.


Not sure if you
qualify for an E1 visa?

Not sure if you qualify for an E1 visa?

Not sure if you
qualify for an E1 visa?

Take our E1 visa quiz to find out.

Who qualifies for an E1 visa?

Who qualifies for an E1 visa?

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Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her

The E1 visa is versatile and applicable to various businesses, but there's a crucial E1 visa requirement: both applicants and the business itself must have the right nationality. Specifically, they should come from a country with a qualifying treaty with the U.S.

So, let's start off by checking out the countries whose citizens have E1 visa eligibility.

The E1 visa is versatile and applicable to various businesses, but there's a crucial E1 visa requirement: both applicants and the business itself must have the right nationality. Specifically, they should come from a country with a qualifying treaty with the U.S.

So, let's start off by checking out the countries whose citizens have E1 visa eligibility.

What are the qualifying E1 visa countries?

What are the qualifying E1 visa countries?

The E1 visa countries currently include:

Argentina

Australia

Austria

Belgium

Bolivia

Bosnia

Brunei

Canada

Chile

China (Taiwan)

Colombia

Costa Rica

Croatia

Denmark

Estonia

Ethiopia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Honduras

Ireland

Iran

Israel

Italy

Japan

Jordan

Korea (South)

Kosovo

Latvia

Liberia

Luxembourg

Macedonia

Mexico

Montenegro

Netherlands

Norway

Oman

Pakistan

Paraguay

Philippines

Poland

Serbia

Singapore

Slovenia

Spain

Suriname

Sweden

Switzerland

Thailand

Togo

Turkey

United Kingdom

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💡 Manifest Tip: If you got your nationality in a treaty country through a financial investment, you will need to show that you lived in that country for at least 3 years before applying for the E-1 visa.

Usually, determining your individual citizenship is straightforward. For most people, it’s the country that issues your passport. It gets a little more complicated with companies sometimes, so let’s go over that.

Generally speaking, the nationality of a business is determined by the nationality of the individual owners of the business. So if you’re a French citizen and you own the whole business, then the business would be considered French as well.

USCIS doesn't care so much about where the business is incorporated, but if it's a public company on the stock exchange, they will assume the company’s nationality is where the exchange is located. In any case, at least 50% of the business needs to be owned by people from a treaty country in order to qualify for an E1 trader visa.


You have to pick only one country for the E1 visa application, so in the case of a 50-50 split in ownership, you have to choose one country for the E1 process.

💡 Manifest Tip: When figuring out a business's nationality, the stock shares owned by U.S. permanent residents don't count.

Not sure if you or your company meet the nationality requirement?

Reach out to Manifest Law and our experienced E1 visa attorneys can help you unpack USCIS requirements.

What kinds of companies qualify for an E1 visa?

What kinds of companies qualify for an E1 visa?

Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her

So, for the E-1 visa, the goal is to let you live in the U.S. while managing your trade business. But what exactly is "trade"?


There are three key elements:


  • There must be an “exchange” of goods or services between the foreign company and the U.S.

  • The flow of goods and services must be “international”.

  • The trade must be “existing” and “substantial”.

So, for the E-1 visa, the goal is to let you live in the U.S. while managing your trade business. But what exactly is "trade"?


There are three key elements:


  • There must be an “exchange” of goods or services between the foreign company and the U.S.

  • The flow of goods and services must be “international”.

  • The trade must be “existing” and “substantial”.

So, for the E-1 visa, the goal is to let you live in the U.S. while managing your trade business. But what exactly is "trade"?


There are three key elements:


  • There must be an “exchange” of goods or services between the foreign company and the U.S.

  • The flow of goods and services must be “international”.

  • The trade must be “existing” and “substantial”.

What counts as an “exchange”?

What counts as an “exchange”?

An exchange, in the context of the E-1 visa requirements, means a beneficial transaction involving at least two companies. For example, this could be selling a product or providing a service that you’re paid for.

What is “international” trade?

At its core, the E-1 visa is all about boosting international trade between two countries. Therefore, the exchange in goods or services must be between the United States and the other treaty country, not just business in one country.


There's another important E1 visa requirement, and it's known as the "Percentage of Trade" requirement. Simply put, this means that over 50% of trade activities should take place between the U.S. and the Treaty Country.

What is “Existing” Trade?

Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her

The E-1 visa isn't about coming to the U.S. to set up new business ventures – instead, it's tailored for situations where trade is already in motion. The proof of this ongoing trade is a key element, usually demonstrated through past transactions and revenue.


In certain cases, immediate trade contracts could also count.

What is “Substantial” Trade?

Another E1 visa requirement is that of “substantial” trade, meaning there must be a continuous flow of money and many transactions over time. It's not just about a couple of one-off deals – for the E1 visa, USCIS assesses both the frequency and significance of the transactions.

What kinds of products and services can be traded?

In the case of the E1 visa, many different products or services could count as trade, such as:


  • Physical goods

  • Consulting

  • Tax services

  • Marketing services

  • International banking

  • Insurance

  • Transportation

  • Tourism

  • Data processing

  • Advertising

  • Design

  • Engineering

  • Technology and its transfer (including IT consulting, IT development, etc.)

  • Communications

  • E-commerce

What are E1 visa examples of businesses that could qualify?

What are E1 visa examples of businesses that could qualify?

Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her
Woman looking tablet screen man is showing her

Let’s take a look! Here are a few E1 visa examples of businesses that could potentially qualify for an E-1 visa for their owners or employees:


  • A UK consulting firm offering services to clients in the US.

  • A healthcare device manufacturer in Korea exporting products to the U.S.

  • An advertising company in the U.S. providing services to clients in Thailand.

  • A fabric company in Italy supplying fabric to U.S. clients.

  • A U.S. seafood trading company importing fish from Japan.

  • A graphic design company in the Netherlands serving U.S. clients.


As long as you meet the E1 visa requirements above, almost any kind of business could be eligible. But remember – submitting the right evidence is critical to E1 visa application success.

Let’s take a look! Here are a few E1 visa examples of businesses that could potentially qualify for an E-1 visa for their owners or employees:


  • A UK consulting firm offering services to clients in the US.

  • A healthcare device manufacturer in Korea exporting products to the U.S.

  • An advertising company in the U.S. providing services to clients in Thailand.

  • A fabric company in Italy supplying fabric to U.S. clients.

  • A U.S. seafood trading company importing fish from Japan.

  • A graphic design company in the Netherlands serving U.S. clients.


As long as you meet the E1 visa requirements above, almost any kind of business could be eligible. But remember – submitting the right evidence is critical to E1 visa application success.

💡 Manifest Tip: You do not necessarily need a physical office space to qualify for an E visa. Although having physical office space may be helpful, it is not an E1 visa requirement.

How long can I stay on an E1 visa?

How long can I stay on an E1 visa?

Typically, under an E-1 visa, you can stay in the U.S. in 2-year increments. There isn't a predetermined limit on the total duration in E-1 status, as long as you consistently meet the E1 visa requirements by successfully managing your business and renewing the visa.


It’s important to keep in mind that the E-1 visa is designed for a temporary stay in the U.S. for living and working purposes. When applying, you'll need to include a statement confirming your intention to return home once your work under E-1 status ends. However, you do not need to specify the total amount of time that you wish to remain in the U.S. in advance.

Typically, under an E-1 visa, you can stay in the U.S. in 2-year increments. There isn't a predetermined limit on the total duration in E-1 status, as long as you consistently meet the E1 visa requirements by successfully managing your business and renewing the visa.


It’s important to keep in mind that the E-1 visa is designed for a temporary stay in the U.S. for living and working purposes. When applying, you'll need to include a statement confirming your intention to return home once your work under E-1 status ends. However, you do not need to specify the total amount of time that you wish to remain in the U.S. in advance.

Can I go from E1 visa to green card?

Can I go from E1 visa to green card?

Unfortunately, there's no straight shot from an E1 visa to green card. But hey, don't lose hope! If you have another path through a family connection or another work-related process, you might find your way to a green card. Interested in learning more? Check out our detailed E1 visa to Green Card step-by-step article here.


If you're curious about your eligibility for an E-1 visa, Manifest can help. Our team will carefully review your evidence and provide you with a visa eligibility assessment. No need to commit to filing your visa just yet – we're here to help you explore the possibilities.

Unfortunately, there's no straight shot from an E1 visa to green card. But hey, don't lose hope! If you have another path through a family connection or another work-related process, you might find your way to a green card. Interested in learning more? Check out our detailed E1 visa to Green Card step-by-step article here.


If you're curious about your eligibility for an E-1 visa, Manifest can help. Our team will carefully review your evidence and provide you with a visa eligibility assessment. No need to commit to filing your visa just yet – we're here to help you explore the possibilities.

Not sure if you qualify for an E1 visa?

Here at Manifest Law, our experienced E1 visa lawyers can help you determine if you meet the requirements to qualify for an E1 visa.

E1 Processing Time

E1 Processing Time

Typically, individuals apply for an E1 visa from outside the U.S. If you're currently abroad, the process involves scheduling an appointment at a consulate to obtain the visa stamp in your passport before you can travel to the U.S.


The timing of this process varies depending on your location, as different consulates have different appointment availability. Many consulates require you to send the entire application to them in advance. They will then review the application, and let you know when they are ready to interview you.


It's worth noting that each consulate follows its own E1 visa process and timing. You can find the latest information on their websites.

E1 Premium Processing

E1 Premium Processing

E1 visa cases are currently eligible for Premium Processing. For an additional USCIS filing fee of $2,805, you will receive a decision on the I-129 petition within 15 business days. A decision could be an approval, a denial, or a request for additional evidence.

E1 visa cases are currently eligible for Premium Processing. For an additional USCIS filing fee of $2,805, you will receive a decision on the I-129 petition within 15 business days. A decision could be an approval, a denial, or a request for additional evidence.

The Form I-129

Form I-129 form is filled by a US based immigration employer that is willing to petition for you to receive a US based visa.

You can download form i-129 here for free.

Form I-129 form is filled by a US based immigration employer that is willing to petition for you to receive a US based visa.

You can download form i-129 below for free.

Or see an example of form i-129 below:

Or read more about how to prepare your i-129 form in our dedicated Form i-129 step-by-step manual here.

Form I-129
Form I-129
Form I-129

When can I start working under an E1 visa?

When can I start working under an E1 visa?

If you are applying from INSIDE the United States (as a change from another status, for example), you change to E-1 visa status on the approved start date.


If you are applying from abroad, you will need to make an appointment to get an E1 visa stamp at the consulate, and can then come into the U.S. with that visa to start working under E1 status.

If you are applying from INSIDE the United States (as a change from another status, for example), you change to E-1 visa status on the approved start date.


If you are applying from abroad, you will need to make an appointment to get an E1 visa stamp at the consulate, and can then come into the U.S. with that visa to start working under E1 status.

E1 Visa Cost

E1 Visa Cost

There are two fees associated with your E1 visa application:

  1. E1 visa lawyer fees

  2. Government fees and other costs

E1 lawyer fees

When it comes to lawyer fees for an E1 visa, they can vary depending on who you go to. For a more personalized touch, we suggest checking out smaller law firms that specialize in E1 visas like Manifest Law, where we only hire experienced immigration lawyers and our E1 visa start at $7,500 and can be paid over 6 months.

E1 processing fees


Below is a summary of the current government filing fees for the E1 visa (note that all fees are subject to change).


  • USCIS:

When it comes to lawyer fees for an L1 visa, they can vary on who you go to. For a more personalized touch, we suggest checking out smaller law firms that specialize in L1 visas like Manifest Law where our lawyer fees for an L1 visa start at $7,500 and can be paid over 6 months.


USCIS L1 visa cost

Below is a summary of the current government filing fees for the L1 visa (note that all fees are subject to change).

Most Organizations

Organizations with fewer than 25 employees

I-129 Fee

$1,015

$510

Asylum Program Fee

$600

$300

TOTAL

$1,615

$810

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  • DOS Visa Fee (when getting visa stamp abroad): $315

When it comes to lawyer fees for an L1 visa, they can vary on who you go to. For a more personalized touch, we suggest checking out smaller law firms that specialize in L1 visas like Manifest Law where our lawyer fees for an L1 visa start at $7,500 and can be paid over 6 months.


USCIS L1 visa cost

Below is a summary of the current government filing fees for the L1 visa (note that all fees are subject to change).

Should I hire an E1 visa lawyer?

Should I hire an E1 visa lawyer?

Since E1 visa applications can be complex and involve a lot of paperwork, many people find it helpful to work with a lawyer.


Hiring an E1 visa lawyer can help you avoid costly mistakes and increase your E1 visa approval rate. Qualified immigration lawyers know how the E1 visa process works, can help you gather the right evidence, and make sure you meet the E1 visa requirements.


Here at Manifest Law, we only work with experienced E1 visa lawyers. If you choose to hire Manifest Law, we offer flexible payment plans stretching up to 6 months, a visa-approved or money-back guarantee (terms apply), and immigration lawyers who are well-versed in the E1 visa process.

Take the First Step:

Schedule your free consultation!

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Review of visa options available for you

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General information about timelines, fees, requirements for various visa options

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Information on Manifest fees, terms and process

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Full clarity and transparency every step along the way

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Avi Goldenberg

Principal attorney at Manifest Law

Take the First Step:

Schedule your free consultation!

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Review of visa options available for you

Check mark in a circle icon

General information about timelines, fees, requirements for various visa options

Check mark in a circle icon

Information on Manifest fees, terms and process

Check mark in a circle icon

Full clarity and transparency every step along the way

Picture of Avi Goldenburg, principal attorney at Manifest law, smiling in eye glasses and a blue button up shirt in his office.

Avi Goldenberg

Principal attorney at Manifest Law

Take the First Step:

Schedule your free consultation!

Check mark in a circle icon

Review of visa options available for you

Check mark in a circle icon

General information about timelines, fees, requirements for various visa options

Check mark in a circle icon

Information on Manifest fees, terms and process

Check mark in a circle icon

Full clarity and transparency every step along the way

Picture of Avi Goldenburg, principal attorney at Manifest law, smiling in eye glasses and a blue button up shirt in his office.

Avi Goldenberg

Principal attorney at Manifest Law

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

What should I look for in an E1 Visa lawyer?

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What is the difference between an E1 and E2 visa?

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Can I convert from an E1 visa to green card?

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Can I bring my spouse/children with me when I am on an E1 visa?

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Can I extend or renew my E1 visa?

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Can I bring employees with me on an E1 visa?

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Attorney Advertising. This website is intended for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for consulting a licensed attorney. Only an attorney can provide you with legal advice, and only after considering your specific facts and circumstances. You should not act on any information on this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney. manifestlaw.com is a product of Manifest Law PLLC. Manifest Law PLLC is a law firm operating as a New York Professional Corporation.

2024 Manifest Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

Attorney Advertising. This website is intended for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for consulting a licensed attorney. Only an attorney can provide you with legal advice, and only after considering your specific facts and circumstances. You should not act on any information on this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney. manifestlaw.com is a product of Manifest Law PLLC. Manifest Law PLLC is a law firm operating as a New York Professional Corporation.

2024 Manifest Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

Attorney Advertising. This website is intended for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for consulting a licensed attorney. Only an attorney can provide you with legal advice, and only after considering your specific facts and circumstances. You should not act on any information on this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney. manifestlaw.com is a product of Manifest Law PLLC. Manifest Law PLLC is a law firm operating as a New York Professional Corporation.

2024 Manifest Copyright. All Rights Reserved.