E-1 Treaty Traders


The E categories are designated for aliens engaged in international trade or investment between the United States (U.S.) and the aliens’ countries of nationality, provided the U.S. has an appropriate treaty relationship with the foreign country.

A treaty country is a foreign state with which a qualifying Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation or its equivalent exists with the U.S. A Treaty Country includes a foreign state that is accorded treaty visa privileges under section 101(a)(15)(E) of the INA by specific legislation. A listing of countries with whom the U.S. currently has treaties can be downloaded from the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (9 FAM 41.51 Exhibit 1 to obtain the correct list or click on the link below).


Note: There is no petitioning process for the E categories. E-nonimmigrant classification is granted through an application process. If outside of the U.S., the alien may apply for an E-1 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a U.S. consular office abroad. If the alien is inside the U.S., the Petition for Alien Worker and E supplement is used to apply for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment. Applications for E-1 or E-2 status may be filed only at the Texas or California Service Centers. However, if an alien currently in E-1 or E-2 status is requesting a change of status to another nonimmigrant classification, the application for change of status must be mailed to one of the four INS Service Centers with jurisdiction over the new requested classification.

For the alien to visit the U.S. temporarily for trading or investing purposes, the requirements outlined at 8CFR 214.2(e) must be met. Potential applicants are also encouraged to consult Department of State regulations at 22CFR 41.51. A brief summary of the requirements for E-1’s and E-2’s follows.

Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of an E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrant will be admitted under same classification as the principal. The dependent spouse and child(ren) are not required to have the same nationality as the principal alien.

Effective January 16, 2002, spouses of E-1 treaty traders or E-2 treaty investors who have been admitted to the United States under sections 101(a)(15)(E) of the Act are authorized employment without restrictions. Further, an unmarried dependent son or daughter of an E nonimmigrant employee of the Taiwan Economic Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) is authorized employment without restriction. In order to obtain work authorization, the E nonimmigrant spouse must submit:

– Application for Employment Authorization, to the Service Center with jurisdiction over the dependent spouse’s place of residence;
– evidence of the E nonimmigrant principal’s current status;
– the dependent spouse’s and the principal’s Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Records as evidence of admission or change of status; and
– a copy of the Form I-797 approval notice for the E nonimmigrant principal’s petition, if available.

E-1 Treaty Trader

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.

Application Document Requirements

The application must be filed with the appropriate fee payment, and evidence that: – The applicant is a national of a country with which the U.S. has the requisite treaty or agreement;
– The activity constitutes trade as defined at 8 CFR 214.2(e)(9);
– The trade is of a substantial nature (i.e. an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international 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 treaty trader is between the U.S. and treaty country of the treaty trader’s nationality;
– If the applicant is not the principal trader, he or she must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possess special qualifications that make the applicant’s services essential to the successful and efficient operation of the enterprise.

Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify. 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 principal employer is an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons having the nationality of the treaty country.

How Can I Check the Status of My Application?

Click on the menu button to the left, labeled “Check Case Status” and enter your file number.