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E1 Visa for Treaty Traders

E1 visas are for international business people in countries with trade treaties with the U.S. They enable multi-national companies to conduct business in the U.S. by allowing professionals legal residence in the country. SimVisa offers:

  • Simplified ability to do business in the U.S.
  • Experienced U.S. immigration lawyers working for you!
  • Reasonable attorney's fees
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All You Need to Know

Chicago E1 Visa Lawyers

An E1 temporary visa permits members of treaty countries access to the U.S. to engage in commercial trading. These commercial visas are open to business people working for a U.S.-based foreign company and may extend to the employee’s immediate family members.

Obtaining an E1 visa is tricky, though. One error or omission in the application can cause weeks or months of delays, hampering your ability to conduct business in the U.S.

At SimVisa, we work with business professionals like yourself to streamline the E1 visa application process. We offer educated insight into the U.S. immigration process. Contact us today to speak with an E1 visa lawyer!

What Is an E1 Visa?  

An E1 trade visa is open to people in specific countries with E1 treaty trade agreements with the U.S. The purpose is to simplify trade for companies that conduct substantial trade in the U.S. Qualifying companies must be owned at least 50% by citizens of the treaty country, and at least half the entity’s business must be conducted in the U.S.

If your company meets these qualifications and you meet additional ones, you may be eligible for an expedited E1 visa for yourself and your immediate family.

Benefits of E1 Treaty Trader Visa

E1 visas offer multiple benefits, including:

  • They're initially valid for up to two years, during which time the treaty trader may freely travel in and out of the U.S.
  • It can be renewed multiple times in two-year increments
  • The visa holder can remain in the U.S. indefinitely to conduct business
  • Visa holders who travel abroad may automatically be granted a two-year visa renewal
  • Treaty traders receive legal work authorization from the trading company
  • There is no requirement for qualified employees to have worked for the trading firm for at least one year before applying for an E1 visa
  • An E1 visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children may also apply for visas
  • The treaty trader's spouse may apply for a work authorization permit to work in the U.S. without employment restrictions (children may not be legally employed)

E1 visa holders enjoy greater freedom of travel than other U.S. visa holders. However, not every international business in the U.S. can have its employees apply for an E1 visa. Call SimVisa to learn if you qualify.  

Limitations of E1 Visa

Some limitations of the E1 treaty country visa include:

  • Holder does not have a direct opportunity to receive a green card
  • Holder may only work at the firm and in the activity they were in when initially approved for the visa
  • E1 visas may be in jeopardy if the holder leaves the qualifying company
  • Visa expires after two years but may be renewed indefinitely as long as the visa holder still qualifies

A treaty trader may bring essential employees to the U.S. These individuals may obtain U.S. employment authorization if they meet the same qualifications as the principal treaty trader. Employees with an E1 visa must have any proposed employment changes approved by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Immigration law can be complex; people unfamiliar with the nuances may have their visa revoked or their application delayed.

E1 Visa Requirements

E1 visa applicants must meet strict eligibility requirements. Your E1 visa immigration lawyer can determine whether you meet each and help you obtain the supporting documentation required to approve your application.

To qualify for an E1 visa, you must:

  1. Be a national of an E1 treaty country
  2. Have business activities constituting substantial trade
  3. Substantial trade constitutes at least 50% of domestic trade (in the U.S)
  4. The trade is conducted primarily between the applicant’s E1 treaty country and the U.S.
  5. The treaty trader intends to leave the U.S. once the E1 status ends
  6. The applicant fills a supervisory or executive position with the company, OR
  7. Possesses skills essential to the business’s operation in the U.S.

An E1 ratified treaty establishes “friendship, commerce, and navigation” between that country and the U.S. The applicant’s home country and the U.S. may also have some other diplomatic agreement that qualifies businesspeople from the trading nation for treaty trader status.

The company the E1 visa applicant works for must also meet certain qualifications, specifically regarding what will constitute trade and what is considered substantial trade. Requirements of the company include:

  • It must engage in the purchase, sale, or exchange of goods and services
  • The business aims to develop international exchange between the treaty trader country and the U.S.
  • Trade must include qualifying commodities (money, goods, services) with the consideration of exchange identifiable
  • Trade between the treaty country and the U.S. must already exist before the applicant submits the E1 visa forms
  • Treaty trader must produce proof of current and past contractual trade relationships

Applicants must demonstrate that the business has a high enough volume of trade to support the business and their immediate family if the applicant wishes to bring a spouse and children to the U.S.

The E1 Visa Treaty Countries

E1 Visa Countries
Argentina Germany Norway
Australia Greece Oman
Austria Honduras Pakistan
Belgium Ireland Paraguay
Bolivia Israel Philippines
Bosnia and Herzegovina Italy Poland
Brunei Japan Serbia
Canada Jordan Singapore
Chile South Korea Slovenia
China (Taiwan) Kosovo Spain
Colombia Latvia Suriname
Costa Rica Liberia Sweden
Croatia Luxembourg Switzerland
Denmark North Macedonia Thailand
Estonia Mexico Togo
Ethiopia Montenegro Turkey
Finland Netherlands United Kingdom
France New Zealand

E1 Treaty Trader Visa Application Process

Foreign national tradespeople may apply for a nonimmigrant visa if they are already in the U.S. (such as under another type of visa) by submitting the E1 application and supporting documents to the USCIS.

Alternatively, if the visa applicant lives outside the U.S., they can apply for the E1 visa through the U.S. embassy in their country or a U.S. consulate.

Within the U.S.

Applicants in the U.S. will fill out Form I-129, the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, if they will be directly engaging in international trade as part of their employment. If the applicant will be working for someone engaged in international trade in the role of an executive, manager, or supervisor, the company files Form I-129 on behalf of that individual.

Applicants must include the following with Form I-129:

  • Filing fees
  • Documents to prove their nationality
  • Proof of trade relationship with their country and the U.S.
  • Statement of intent to return to their own country

The USCIS processes the application, which can take several weeks or months, depending on your situation. If the application is approved, the USCIS sends Form I-797, the Approval Notice, either to the employee or the company.

Outside the U.S.

E1 visa-seekers living outside the U.S. apply through the U.S. embassy in their own country. The process is longer than if you already live in the U.S. and requires the following steps:

  • Submit Form DS-160, the Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • Pay the filing fee of $205. You may also have additional fees like visa insurance or a reciprocity fee (depending on your country)
  • Schedule a visa interview as soon as possible. All applicants between the ages of 13 and 80 must interview with a U.S. embassy official

Once you schedule an interview, you receive a visa appointment letter, which you need to bring to the interview. You’ll also need to bring substantiating documents to prove your international exchange relationship and employment with the trading company, including:

  • Valid passport
  • Proof the company is based out of a qualifying treaty country
  • Proof the trading company is in a treaty trade country
  • Completed DS-160 Form and one photo conforming to the U.S. visa photo requirements, along with the DS-160 confirmation page
  • Completed DS-156E, the Treaty or Trader Investor Application
  • Receipts of all filing and application fees
  • Your visa appointment letter
  • Letter from your employer describing the nature of your role and how you are an essential employee to the company’s international trade
  • Documents proving your employer has a substantial (at least 50% of its trading volume) trade relationship with the U.S.
  • Proof that you intend to return to your home country, such as an apartment lease, property deed, or similar documents

At the interview, the embassy official will ask about your purpose for going to the U.S. and may focus on your intent to return home.

E1 Visa Processing Time

The average E1 processing time for applicants going through the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country is 2-4 months, much faster than other types of visas. If you’re applying for a change of status to a visa you already hold, you may pay for premium processing, about 15 days, or regular processing, 4-6 months.

How Can SimVisa Help with an E1 Visa?

SimVisa’s skilled immigration attorneys provide comprehensive assistance for people seeking E1 visas. Our services include:

  • Determining your eligibility, assessing your qualifications, and evaluating if you meet the E1 visa requirements
  • Preparing and filing the E1 visa application, including walking you through completing all required paperwork, collecting the supporting documents required, and submitting it to the correct U.S. government agency.
  • Responding to requests for additional information and clarifying questions the USCIS has about your application
  • Preparing you for the visa interview and accompanying you to the interview if you desire
  • Providing ongoing advice to help you maintain E1 status and ensure your actions and business dealings are compliant with U.S. immigration laws

Our immigration attorneys provide knowledgeable guidance and update you about any changes in U.S. immigration laws or E1 trade agreements that could affect your visa and status in the U.S.

We help you obtain your E1 immigration visa from start to finish, answer your questions along the way, and make the immigration process as straightforward and stress-free as possible.

SohYoon Atac
Co-founder of SimVisa with over 17 years of experience in immigration law.


  • Juris Doctorate - Chicago Kent College of Law
  • Bachelor's Degree - The University of Chicago
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Why Choose SimVisa's E1 Visa Attorneys?

Our firm has over a decade of experience helping foreign nationals obtain visas to enter the U.S. We offer:

  • Personalized advice from a skilled immigration lawyer
  • Reasonable legal fees
  • Decades of combined success securing green cards

With so much on the line for an E1 trade visa, don’t take any chances with a delayed or denied application.

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What Our Clients Are Saying


Read the reviews below to see what our clients have to say.

Sinziana Constandache

I absolutely recommend Mrs Atac and her team! They were wonderful in helping me get my green card and my citizenship and made the entire process go as smoothly as possible. They got everything that needed to be done together- so much paperwork and documents, and answered all my questions- no matter how small; they would reply right away and that have given me peace of mind about any concern that I had. The staff is absolutely amazing and I would 10/10 recommend

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Iibrahim Teke

My attorney SohYoon and her assistant Vanessa were really helpful. They walked me through all through all the process step by step. Definitely recommended

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Icen Arsin

Very courteous, professional and competent legal team. They take the time to understand your specific situation. They support and follow through.

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Martin Kerver

Always professional to any of our questions we had. Highly recommended.

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Avnit Bambah

Great firm help me with Citizenship and I got it in timely manner.

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Heejoo Smith

Great immigration service! I got my green card within 4 months!

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Cirkovic Pedja

Agile and swift. All the best PJ

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FAQs About E1 Visa

Our clients have a lot of questions. Here are the answers to some of those most frequently asked.

Can I Bring My Family Under E1 Treaty Trader Visa?

Yes, E1 visa holders may bring their immediate family to the U.S. This includes their spouse and all unmarried children under age 21. Regardless of which country they come from, family members are usually granted the same length of stay as the E1 visa holder. If they are already in the U.S., spouses and children may also apply for necessary status changes or extensions.

Can I transition from an E1 Visa to a Green Card?

The E1 visa permits business people with trade interests in the U.S. to expand their companies in the United States. However, an E1 visa will not easily translate to permanent residence (a green card) like other types of visas.

To get a green card from an E1 visa, you can apply for:

SimVisa can explain which option is best for your situation.

How long is an E1 Visa valid?

E1 trade visas are usually valid for two years, although depending on the nature of the trade agreement between your country and the U.S., yours could be as short as a few months to as long as five years.

Five years is the maximum duration of an E1 visa, although visa holders can petition to extend the visa in two-year increments or leave and re-enter the country to receive an additional two-year extension.

The status of your home country’s trade agreement with the U.S. determines your initial visa duration. However, if you have an E2 visa, your status determines the length of time you can stay, not the validity of your visa.

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Contact Your E1 Attorneys Today!

SimVisa immigration attorneys assist foreign nationals seeking long-term U.S. employment in professional positions as well as employers looking to hire qualified foreign workers. Contact us today to learn more about our immigration law services.