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E1 Visa and E2 Visa for Entrepreneurs: Differences and Requirements


The E1 Visa, also known as the Treaty Traders Visa, is a lesser-known option for entrepreneurs looking to conduct business in the United States. Like the E2 Visa, it is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows individuals to work in the United States. However, the E1 Visa specifically focuses on commercial activities related to import and export for entrepreneurs from their country of origin. To be eligible for an E1 Visa, the applicant must be a citizen of a country that has a treaty with the United States, own at least 50% of the company’s capital, and intend to come to the United States to work in the company they have created. The application must be made at the U.S. embassy in the applicant’s home country and must include a business plan.

E1 visa

The E1 visa applies for trades with the country of origin

One of the main differences between the E1 Visa and the E2 Visa is the activity of the company. The E1 Visa is specifically for businesses that are involved in importing or exporting goods or services to the visa applicant’s country of origin. This visa promotes trade between countries that have a bilateral reciprocal trade treaty.

Key criteria are different

There are two key criteria for the E1 Visa. First, the import/export operations must be substantial. This means they must be significant in terms of volume and amount. It is commonly recommended that these operations have an annual value of at least $100,000 during the duration of the visa. Second, at least 50% of the import/export operations must take place with the E1 Visa holder’s country of origin. The other 50% can come from anywhere, including another country or internal trade within the United States.

Difference about the marginality criteria

While there is no requirement that the business must not be marginal or that the applicant must have a certain number of employees, it is generally recommended to have staff when applying for the renewal of an E1 Visa. To obtain an E1 Visa, it is important to show that the applicant has experience in international trade and, if possible, to have already exported goods to the United States. Customs documents will also need to be provided. It is strongly recommended to have an experienced immigration attorney present the application. The applicant’s spouse and children will also be eligible for visas, with the children’s visas expiring at age 21.

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Sylvain Perret

Sylvain Perret is a business professional who has been living in the United States since 2010. Along with his wife Daphnee, he has established several businesses in the country, including Integrity International Brokers, an agency based in Orlando where he works as a business broker, real estate broker, business consultant, and business plan writer. Over the years, he has helped numerous clients from around the world achieve success in their projects to create or take over a company in the United States with an E2 visa. He is highly knowledgeable about U.S. immigration issues and is the author of the book "S'expatrier aux USA grâce aux visas d'entrepreneurs", which is soon to be translated into English. Sylvain is also a Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) by the International Business Brokers Association and is regularly consulted on issues related to this field. At the age of 50, Sylvain chose to enhance his expertise in finance and strategy by pursuing a Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Florida. He successfully graduated in May 2023, adding a valuable finishing touch to his knowledge. He is active on LinkedIn and Twitter, where he shares his insights and experiences with a wider audience.


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