The E-1 classification is authorized for a national of a country with which the United States has a commercial treaty, who is coming to the U.S. solely to engage in trade of a substantial nature principally between the United States and the alien’s country of nationality. The trade involved must be international exchange (successfully negotiated contracts binding on all parties) of items of trade between the U.S. and a treaty country. Title to the trade item must pass from one treaty party to the other.
If the alien is inside the U.S., the I-129 is used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. This classification does not require a petition for employment if the alien is outside of the U.S. If outside of the U.S., the alien applies for an E-1 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad.
The application must be filed with the appropriate fee payment, and evidence that:
• The applicant is a national of a country with whom the U.S. has the requisite treaty or agreement;
• The activity constitutes trade as defined at 214.2(e)(9);
• The trade is of a substantial nature, i.e. an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of trade items between the U.S. and the treaty country;
• The trade conducted by the alien is principally trade between the United States and the treaty country of which the alien is a national. Trade is deemed to be principally between the U.S. and treaty country when over 50% of the volume of international trade conducted by the alien treaty trader is between the U.S. and treaty country of which the alien is a national;
• If the applicant is not the principal trader, that the alien is employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possesses special qualifications that make the alien’s services essential to the successful and efficient operation of the enterprise.
• The applicant intends to depart the U.S. upon the expiration of E-1 status. (However, an application for initial admission, change of status, or extension of stay in E classification may not be denied solely on the basis of an approved request for permanent labor certification or a filed or approved immigrant visa preference petition.)
• The employee has the same nationality as the principal alien employer.
• The alien employer is an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons having the nationality of the treaty country.
There are no quota restrictions for E-1 visas. Spouses of E-1 Visa holders are also eligible to accept employment in the United States. E-1 Visa holders are generally admitted for a period of 2 years and extensions can be easily obtained.