E-1 Treaty Traders
The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.
Please refer to U.S. Department of State’s Treaty Countries for a current list of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce.
- General Qualifications of a Treaty Trader
- General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Trader
- Terms and Conditions of E-1 Status
- Family of E-1 Treaty Traders and Employees
- Period of Stay
General Qualifications of a Treaty Trader
To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:
- Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty
of commerce and navigation
- Carry on substantial trade
- Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty
country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.
Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for
consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade
include but are not limited to:
- International banking
- Technology and its transfer
- Some news-gathering activities.
Substantial trade generally refers to the continuous flow of sizable
international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. There is
no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each
transaction. While monetary value of transactions is an important factor in
considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges
of greater value.
Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country
exists when over 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the
U.S. and the trader’s treaty country.
General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Trader
To qualify for E-1 classification, the employee of a treaty trader must:
- Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the
nationality of the treaty country)
- Meet the definition of “employee” under the relevant law
- Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory
character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special
If the principal alien 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 character are those
which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the
organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it.
Special 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 include, but are not limited to:
- 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
Knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet this
requirement. Note that in some cases a skill that is essential at one point in
time may become commonplace, and therefore no longer qualifying, at a later
Terms and Conditions of E-1 Status
A treaty trader or employee may only work in the activity for which he or she
was approved at the time the classification 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
- Terms and conditions of employment have not otherwise changed.
USCIS must approve any substantive change in the terms or conditions
of E-1 status. A “substantive change” is defined as a fundamental change in the
employer’s basic characteristics, such as, but not limited to, a merger,
acquisition, or major event which affects the treaty trader or employee’s
previously approved relationship with the organization.
A strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage at the intended
place of employment may affect a Canadian or Mexican treaty trader or employee’s
ability to obtain E-1 status.
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
nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be
granted the same period of stay as the employee.
As discussed above, the E-1 treaty trader or employee may travel abroad and
will generally be granted an automatic two-year period of admission when
returning to the United States. Unless the family members are accompanying the
E-1 treaty trader or employee at the time the latter seeks admission to the
United States, the new readmission period will not apply to the family members.
To remain lawfully in the United States, family members must carefully note the
period of stay they have been granted in E-1 status, and apply for an extension
of stay before their own validity expires.
Period of Stay
Qualified treaty traders and employees 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
nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-1 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an
intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is
An E-1 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic
two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.