The classification “E-1 Treaty Trader” refers to a nonimmigrant from a treaty country permitted in the United States to conduct trade on his/her own behalf. A “treaty country” refers to any country that the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with. The United States Department of State keeps a list of these countries. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) you must meet several qualifications to obtain a trader visa:
If you are outside of the United States, you may obtain E-1 classification through the Department of State. You may not request a trader visa by filing Form I-129 if you are physically located outside of the United States border. If you are in the country under a legal non-immigration classification, your employer may file Form I-129 for you. If you are outside of the United States, you must apply to enter the country through a DHS officer at a United States airport, border, or sea port.
By definition, trade involves the international exchange of items between the United States and a treaty country. Items up for trade may include: goods, services, banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, technology, technology transfer, and some forms of news gathering. “Substantial trade,” as referred to by the USCIS, involves the continuous flow of considerable international trade items. Numerous transactions must be made over time. Even though the monetary value is important, the frequent transactions are more significant.
Once you have been granted E-1 classification, you are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. You may request to say longer in increments of no more than two years, and there is no limit to the number of extensions you may be allowed. However, you must intend to leave the United States once your E-1 classification is terminated. Generally speaking, if you leave the United States under E-1 classification and travel abroad, you will be granted two years under E-1 classification upon your return. You probably will not have to file a new Form I-129 with USCIS when you return. A New York immigration attorney from our firm can help you make this determination.
Treaty traders may be accompanied by their employees, given that the employee meets certain qualifications. If you are an employ of a treaty trader, you must be of the same nationality of your employer, meet the criteria of an “employee” under the law, and participate in duties of an executive or supervisor or have special qualifications of some kind. If you are an employee and your employer is an organization instead of an individual, the organization must be (at least) 50% owned by people in the United States who have the nationality of the treat country. Owners of the organization must be nonimmigrant treaty traders. If they are not located in the United States, the must be classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty traders.
Your spouse and children may accompany you once you obtain E-1 classification. According to the USCIS, your children must be less than 21 years old and unmarried. Your spouse and children may have different nationalities than your own, and may be granted E-1 nonimmigrant classification and will most likely be allowed to stay in the country as long as you are allowed to stay. If your family is already in the United States, but want to change their classification to E-1, they may apply by filing Form I-539. There is a fee attached to this form. Your spouse is allowed to apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 and if he/she obtains approval, there are no specific restrictions as to where he/she can work.
Although a treaty trader may leave the country and return under E-1 classification, their families may not be granted the same two-year admission upon their return. In other words, travel restrictions and regulations are different for the family members of a treaty trader or treaty trader employee. Unless your family accompanies you when you seek admission into the United States, they must apply for their own extensions so that their E-1 classification is not terminated before your own. Your family’s classification is separate from your own; it is possible that their admission period will run out before your own if you are staying in the country because of readmission. Don’t wait to contact a New York Business immigration lawyer from our firm for the professional guidance you need as you pursue this type of visa.