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E-1 Visa – For Treaty Traders

This is a trade-treaty-based nonimmigrant visa classification.

  • This visa classification allows a national of a “treaty country” – a country with which the United States maintains a trade treaty – to enter into the United States and stay there in order to engage in trade related activities on ones behalf. 
  • Under this classification, certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying operating entity may also be eligible to apply for this visa. 


Standard Qualifications – Treaty Trader:

In order to qualify for E-1 visa classification, the treaty trader must:

  • Hold nationality of a country with which the United States continues to maintain a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Be engaged in significant trading activities
  • Have core trading business between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.

The Trade is denoted as the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country.  Such items of trade include but are not limited to:

  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and its transfer
  • Some news-gathering activities.


Significant  trading activities generally refers to:

  • the systematic and continuous flow of reasonable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. 
  • There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction.  


Standard Qualifications –  Employee of a Treaty Trader

To qualify for E-1 classification, the employee of a treaty trader must:

  • Hold the same nationality as of the principal alien employer (who must have nationality of the treaty country)
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under the relevant law
  • Be engaged in duties of an executive or supervisory position, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special skills and qualifications.

If the principal employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country.  These owners must be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty trader status.  If the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty traders. 

Duties which are of an executive or supervisory position are those which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it. 

Special skills and qualifications are skills which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the business.  There are several qualities or circumstances which could, depending on the facts, meet this requirement.  These may include:

  • The degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations
  • Whether others possess the employee’s specific skills
  • The salary that the special qualifications can command
  • Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States

Period of Stay

  • Approved applicant will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years.
  • Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each.
  • There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 visa may be granted.
  • All E-1 visa holders, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

An E-1 visa holder who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States. 

General Terms & Conditions of E-1 Status

An E-1 visa holder may only work in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the visa was granted.  An E-1 employee, however, may also work for the treaty organization’s parent company or one of its subsidiaries as long as the:

  • Relationship between the organizations is established
  • Subsidiary employment requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills
  • Terms and conditions of employment have not otherwise changed.


Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees

  • Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. 
  • Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee.
  • These family members may seek E-1 visa as dependents and, when approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as their principal E-1 visa holder. 
  • Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization.  If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-1 spouse may work.