Powell Immigration Law PC | Business, Employment and Family Immigration Law | California

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

A basic overview of the visa is provided here. If you have further inquiries as to the application process or whether or not this is the correct route for your needs, please don't hesitate to contact us.


The E-1 visa for treaty traders allows nationals from countries maintaining an eligible treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States to enter for the express purposes of conducting substantial trade between the U.S. and the treaty country.


The individual must be a national of a country with a treaty of navigation and commerce with the U.S. for means of the E-1 visa. These treaties may include, but are not limited to treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation, or Bilateral Investment Treaties. Such applicable countries are listed below alphabetically.

  • Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Herzegovina, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom and Yugoslavia.

In addition, the individual must also provide evidence of the following:

  • The trading firm the individual is representing must have the nationality of the treaty country, and the individual must also share that nationality.

  • The international trade must be 'substantial' between the individual's home country and the U.S., meaning that the trade is sizable and continuous. Both volume and monetary value will be considered by adjudicators.

    • This does not exclude small businessmen, as they will likely be given favorable discretion if they provide proof of a pattern of numerous transactions, even if each by itself is small in value, and especially if the revenue earned is sufficient to support the treaty trader and his or her family.

  • The trade must be conducted principally between the U.S. and the treaty country.

    • Generally over fifty percent of the international trade volume should be between the U.S. and the treaty country. This is measured by observing the trade conducted by the treaty trader, which might be an individual, partnership, joint venture, corporation, etc. A branch is not considered to be a separate legal person or trader, but a section of another entity, while a subsidiary is a separate legal person or entity.  Therefore, to measure trade of a branch, the focus is on the entity of which it is a part, usually a foreign-based business (individual, corporation, etc.).

    • If the fifty percent requirement is met, it is not necessary to similarly reapportion the duties of an employee.

  • The trade must constitute an exchange of qualifiable activities.

    • The trade must be made up of a traceable exchange of qualifying commodities such as goods, money or services. It should also be noted that revenue from services performed in the U.S. and simply deposited in the bank account of the treaty country may not be qualified as a meaningful exchange if the new capital does not thus benefit any treaty country business. The title of ownership of any trade item, of course, must also transfer from one trading party to the other.

    • For the trade of a service to be eligible under the E-1 program, the provision of the service by the business must be its contributory purpose and more importantly must itself be the commodity that the business sells to its clients.

  • The trade must be international in scope.

    • As the purpose of these treaties are to develop the expansive nature of the international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country, solely developing the domestic market would not establish any sort of eligibility for trade as classified under the E-1 visa. The exchange must take place between the U.S. and the treaty country. 

  • The trade must already be in existence.

    • Trade between the treaty country and the U.S. must already be ongoing on behalf of the applicant or his or her firm, including established contracts. 

  • The person in question must be a supervisor or executive within the trading firm (or be destined to be) or possess highly specialized skills crucial to the efficiency of the firm's operation. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers will not qualify.

  • The applicant intends to depart the U.S. when his or her E-1 status expires.


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