Two important factors to consider are: (1) the volume of trade conducted, and (2) the monetary value of the trade. For example, a smaller businessman who conducts continuous and numerous transactions, although individually small in monetary value, could qualify for an E-1 Visa because of the volume of the trade. On the other hand, a business that conducts less frequent but more valuable transactions could also qualify for an E-1 Visa, as the value of the transactions is significant. Although there is no bright line rule in the books to determine substantial trade, the Department of State has suggested that a continuous flow of goods and/or services and at least three transactions, are relevant factors and will be looked at by the U.S. Immigration adjudicating officer.
There are several industries and businesses that can fall within the E-1 definition of trade. These service-based businesses include, but are not limited to: banking, insurance, transportation, communications and data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, tourism, and technology transfer. Furthermore, in 1997 trade was amended to also include successfully negotiated contracts that call for the immediate exchange of items, giving E-1 benefits even before the trading has begun.
The final element is that you carry on “principle trade” with the United States. If your company does business with other nations as well as the United States, the general rule is that at least 50% of the business must be with the United States. USCIS also has ruled that this trade must be ongoing; meaning that the trade with the United States must be continuing at the time of the E-1 visa application and approval, as well as throughout the time of the visa holder’s stay in the United States. A temporary dip below the 50% threshold is okay, but long-term departures from the standard could revoke an E-1 visa.