E-1 Visa — The Import/Export Visa
If you are already trading with the USA or you own an American company that trades with your home country, you are most likely qualified to apply for an E-1 visa. Once you have the E-1 visa, you will be able to take advantages of many opportunities. Not only will you be able to travel freely and be able to live in the USA, but you will have access to a social security number. This opens a lot of doors, which would not be available without your E-1 visa. For example once you have your social security number you are able to establish credit lines in the United States. The United States is known to have one of the best interests rates in the world, which can be used for your business or personal needs.
Qualified E-1 Visa Treaty Countries
The USA signed several investment treaties with many countries, including Mexico, Japan, Colombia, Spain, Canada and many other countries.
The U.S. State Department publishes a complete list of the qualifying treaty countries for you to view, just Click Here.
The following types qualify for the E-1 visa:
- If you are an Executive or a Manager of any company in the treaty country, or a Specialist employed by that company; OR
- If you own at least 50% of the shares in that company; OR
- You are a citizen of a treaty country already in the USA and become involved with international trade between both countries; OR
- You are an immediate family member of an E-1 visa holder.
Trade is generally defined as buying or selling goods, services, and commodities between countries.
The U.S. Immigration Service describes the types of items as “Trade” on its website to include:
- International Banking
- Technology and its transfer
- News gathering activities
As you can see, many different types of activities and services qualify as “Trade” for the E-1 Visa.
U.S. Immigration also clarifies that the trade activities must be a continuous flow of trade items with numerous transactions over time. However, no minimum requirements exist regarding volume or value of the trading activities.
In addition, the principal trade must involve over 50% of the total volume of trading activities between the USA and the treaty country.
To Summarize: Your company can engage in any of the trading activities listed above. There must be continuous trading (we recommend at least five times per year). Finally, the majority of your trading must occur between your home country and USA companies.
When you apply for an E-1 visa, you must promise that you will leave the USA when this visa expires. However you can renew your visa and petition extensions for unlimited times as long as you and the enterprise qualify as an E-1 applicant. What this means is that as long as the qualifying enterprise continues to trade in a continuous and substantial matter, you can renew your E-1 as many times as you want (considering that the applicant qualifies).
E-1 statuses are valid for 2 years and can be extended for 2 year periods indefinitely as long as your trade business continues to operate. Visas in the other hand can be granted for up to 5 years (usually depending the treaty country).
You can freely leave and return to the USA knowing your E-1 visa allows re-admission.
This is a non-immigrant visa allowing you to reside in the USA without becoming a citizen.
Changing Visa Status When Residing in the USA
If you are a treaty country citizen currently residing in the USA using a different non-immigration visa. You can file a U.S. immigration Form I-129 to change it into an E-1 visa. However, you must already own a qualified trading company in your home country.
If you are employed by a qualified treaty trading company and living in the USA under a different non-immigration visa. Your employer can file the Form I-129 on your behalf.
Applying from Your Country
If you live outside of the USA, you must file the application for an E-1 visa at the designated U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For example in Mexico, E-1 visas are only issued in Monterrey or Tijuana. Make sure all required documents are filed with your application. You will be required to appear for a personal interview.
Your spouse and children (under the age of 21 and not married) also qualify for the E-1 visa. Once approved, your spouse can legally work anywhere in the USA.
Here are the four biggest benefits of the E-1 visa:
- Freedom of Travel as the E-1 visa lets you freely travel anywhere in the USA. In addition, you can leave and return to the USA using this visa as often as you like.
- Legally Work in the USA since the E-1 visa allows you to work for your trading company.
- Unlimited Visa Extensions renewed every 2 years indefinitely as long you comply with the E-1 visa requirements, such as continuing your trading business.
- Your Family Qualifies as your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years are dependents. Every 2 years your family receives an extension along with yours.
The best results are seen when trading at least $120,000 USD of products or services in an “active” import/export trading business. This means exporting and/or importing activities at least five times per year.
One benefit of owning an American trading company allows you to cut out middlemen to reduce costs. You can be your own For example, goods your home country company produces can be sold directly to your American company with no middleman.
If you already own a trading company in your treaty country. Your company must export/import at least 50% of its goods or services to the USA.
If not, we can help you with starting an American trading company to qualify for the E-1 visa.
Contact Us in order to apply for an E-1 visa. If you wish to create an American trading company, we can also help you.