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The ABCs of Immigration - E-1 Treaty Trader Visas
by Greg Siskind and Amy Ballentine

E-1 Treaty Trader Visas are available to people who will enter the US solely to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or trade in technology, principally between the US and the foreign country of which the person is a national. The US and the trader's home country must have a ratified treaty of “friendship, commerce, and navigation,” or have some other diplomatic agreement that allows for treaty trader status. At least 50% of the ownership of the trading firm must be in the hands of nationals of the visa applicant's home country. To be eligible for an E-1 visa the person should be an owner, manager, executive, or hold an “essential” position within the company. The applicant must also be a national of the treaty country.  Some of the most important requirements for an E-1 visa include the following:

  • The trading company must be “trading.” “Trading” can include the exchange, purchase, or sale of goods or services, as long as the goal of the trade is the development of international commercial trade between the US and the treaty country.
  • The trading must involve an actual exchange of qualifying commodities (including goods, services, or money) and the consideration must be traceable or identifiable.A transfer of title must pass from the trader of one nationality to the trader of the other.
  • Trade between the foreign company and the US must already exist. The visa applicant should be prepared to document existing and past contractual trade relationships.
  • The trading company must be engaged in “substantial” trade with the US. The visa applicant must show numerous transactions over time and a significant monetary value of business. There is no statutory minimum amount of trade, but the visa applicant should at least be able to show the volume of trade is enough to support the business as well as the visa applicant and his or her family. Consulates are cautioned, however, not to deny visas to small business people so long as there is continuing trade between the US and the treaty country.
  • Over 50 percent of the total volume of the company’s trade must be between the US and the treaty country.
Applications for E-1 visas are made directly to the US consulate and not through the INS, unless the applicant is in the US in another visa status and seeks to change to an E-1 visa. Each consulate has its own version of an E visa questionnaire form and most require extensive documentation accompanying the application. The length of time the visa will be issued is determined by agreements between the US and the Treaty country. Visas may not be issued for more than five years, but they may be renewed continuously without a limit on stay in E-1 status. Spouses and children of E-1s are entitled to visas as well. E-1 family members will not be deported because they accept employment, but they will be considered out of status and ineligible to change status in the US.Without section 245(i) they will not be able to adjust status in the US.

The following countries have ratified trade treaties with the US and their nationals are eligible to apply for E-1 status:
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Bolivia
Bosnia
Brunei
Canada
China (Taiwan)
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Denmark
Estonia
Ethiopia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Honduras
Iran
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Korea
Liberia
Luxembourg
Mexico
Netherlands
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Paraguay
Philippines
Spain
Suriname
Sweden
Switzerland
Thailand
Togo
Turkey
United Kingdom
Yugoslavia (includes Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Serbia-Montenegro, which even though it is not recognized by the US, is bound by its treaty obligations.)


About The Author

Gregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, Gregory Siskind went on to receive his law degree from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and he currently serves as a member of the organization's Technology Committee. He is the current committee chair for the Nashville Bar Association's International Section. Greg is a member of the American Bar Association where he serves on the LPM PublishGregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

Greg regularly writes on the subject of immigration law. He has written several hundred articles on the subject and is also the author of the new book The J Visa Guidebook, published by Matthew Bender and Company, one of the nation's leading legal publishers. He is working on another book for Matthew Bender on entertainment and sports immigration.

Greg is also, in many ways, a pioneer in the use of the Internet in the legal profession. He was one of the first lawyers in the country (and the very first immigration lawyer) to set up a web site for his practice. And he was the first attorney in the world to distribute a firm newsletter via e-mail listserv. Mr. Siskind is the author of the American Bar Association's best selling book, The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. He has been interviewed and profiled in a number of leading publications and media including USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lawyers Weekly, the ABA Journal, the National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Law Practice Management Magazine, National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the Washington Post. As one of the leading experts in the country on the use of the Internet in a legal practice, Greg speaks regularly at forums across the United States, Canada and Europe.

In his personal life, Greg is the husband of Audrey Siskind and the proud father of Eden Shoshana and Lily Jordana. He also enjoys collecting rare newspapers and running in marathons and triathlons. He can be reached by email at GSiskind@visalaw.com

Amy Ballentine is an associate in Siskind, Susser & Haas's Memphis, Tennessee office. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rhodes College in 1994. While in law school at the University of Memphis she was a member of the law review staff as well as a published author. She also worked with the local public defender’s office in death penalty cases. In May 1999, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis Law School. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She can be reached by email at aballentine@visalaw.com


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