Real quickly, the basic requirements for an E1 visa are as follows:
- National of a treaty country
- Carry on substantial trade
- Carry on principal trade between the US and the treaty country
The first requirement is simple, if you are from a country that has signed a relevant treaty with the US concerning commerce and navigation, then you pass. Here is a list of those.
Where it gets a little trickier is defining “substantial trade.” Generally, there is no unstated amount that will automatically qualify you. Substantial trade is defined as “the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time.” So, you can see that there are two relevant factors — sizable items and numerous transactions. In practice, it will be more helpful to the applicant to show numerous transactions rather than a large average size of items moved because numerous transactions are more likely to continue while the average size of items moved may not be sustainable.
“Principal trade” is another requirement. This will be met if > 50% of your trading is between the US and the trader’s treaty country. The purpose of an E1 visa is to facilitate trade between the US and those treaty countries, so you will have to show that you will further that goal by engaging in trade between the two countries.
In terms of actually applying for the visa and the application process, it will be easier with the help of an immigration attorney. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to first determine your best options and then walk you through the process. If you’re interested in speaking with a lawyer then feel free to visit. We offer free initial consultations and affordable flat-fee pricing. Hope this helps!