A person who engages in substantial trade with the U.S. or works for an enterprise that does substantial trade with the U.S. is eligible to stay in the U.S. as an E-1 visa holder as long as the trade with the U.S. continues. To qualify for a treaty trader visa (E-1) or Treaty investor visa (E-2), an applicant must fulfill the following common conditions.


To apply for an E-1 visa, an applicant must be a citizen of a country that has entered a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation or Bilateral Investment Treaty with the U.S. Since South Korea is one of those countries, South Korean citizens are eligible to apply for E-1 or E-2 visas.


At least fifty percent of the invested or established company for a trade purpose inside the U.S. must be owned by citizens of a treaty country. For instance, if a person who has a South Korean citizenship is to qualify for an E-1 visa, more than half of the company stock must be owned by South Koreans.


Applicants who seek E visa status must have the same nationalities as the established treaty enterprise in the U.S. As long as an E visa holder is eligible for E status, his or her accompanying spouse and children, both who can be of any nationality, are eligible to stay in the U.S. The spouse of E visa holders may accept U.S. employment and the children may receive education in the U.S.


There are several other requirements specifically asked for holders of a Treaty Trader Visa (E-1) besides the aforementioned common conditions for an E Visa.

The term, ‘trade,’ for an E-1 visa means exchange or purchase of goods and services. Therefore, it includes various activities such as banking, insurance, transportation, communications, advertising, accounting, design, legal consulting, tourism, and engineering. A company is required to be carrying on a substantial amount of trade, and the volume and frequency of the trade may be considered to prove the continuous flows of trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. More than 50% of the company’s trade must be with the U.S.


E-1 visas may be issued to people who are executives, supervisors or employees with special expertise whose services are essential to the operation of the enterprise. Executives and supervisors determine the policy and direction for the business and give supervision of high-level employees. Employees with special expertise are people with special knowledge about production, maintenance, and inspection of the company’s goods and services, which are essential for the successful operation of the enterprise. If such skills are not readily available in the U.S. labor market, E-1 visas may be issued to aliens who are trained for production, maintenance, and inspection of the company’s goods and services.