The E-2 investment visa allows foreign investors to obtain a visa to reside in the the United States with their immediate family to direct and develop a commercial enterprise. Applicants must fulfill certain criteria in order to obtain an E-2 visa, including making a substantial investment in an active and ongoing commercial enterprise.
Prior to applying, many questions may arise, such as exactly how long it will take to obtain an E2 visa. The answer depends on two separate factors. First, the investor will need a certain amount of time to gather information, identify an investment, formulate a business plan, and take the necessary steps to make the investment necessary to apply for an E-2 visa. Second, the length of time that it takes the government to approve or deny the petition for an E-2 visa will depend on where it is submitted: through the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) if the applicant wishes to change status in the United States, or at a U.S. Consulate if the applicant wishes to process outside of the United States to obtain the Visa.
Preparing the Application
Before an application can be filed, both the applicant and his attorney must perform substantial work to ensure that the petition is in good order. To be approved, an E-2 visa requires that (1) the applicant be a citizen or national of a country that has a commerce and navigation treaty with the United States, (2) he or she make a substantial investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States, (3) he or she have already invested or be in the process of investing, (4) the enterprise be a real, operating, non-marginal commercial enterprise, and (5) the applicant be in a position to develop and direct the enterprise.
Working collaboratively with an immigration attorney, it may take anywhere from a couple weeks to several months to put together the necessary documentation and prepare the legal and financial paperwork necessary for the investment prior to filing the application. In addition, the investment visa lawyer will need additional time to process and finalize the E-2 visa application to ensure that it has the highest possible chance of approval. Once complete, the determination with then need to be made as to whether the application should be filed with USCIS or the appropriate U.S. Consulate.
Domestic USCIS Process
For applicants present in the United States, E-2 visa applications can be filed directly with USCIS. The typical USCIS process will take approximately five months. This is an average processing time, and could increase or decrease based on a number of factors. However, applicants have the option of paying a premium processing fee of $1,225; for this amount, the application will be adjudicated within fifteen days. This means that USCIS will either approve or deny the petition or issue a request for additional evidence (RFE) within fifteen days of submission. If additional evidence is submitted in response to a RFE, then USCIS will issue a second decision within fifteen days. However, it is important to note that a change of status within the US will not result in the E-2 Visa but, instead, merely E-2 status. The status will be valid for two years but if the foreign national wishes to leave the US to travel they will have to apply for a visa from the applicable US Consulate in the future. Alternatively, if they do not need to travel outside of the US the E2 Status can be renewed every two years providing for continued eligibility.
U.S. Consulate Process
Most applicants for E-2 visas submit their application for an E-2 through a U.S. Consulate. The processing time for an E-2 visa varies by Consulate anywhere from about two weeks to four months. After an initial review is completed, the Consulate will set up an interview with the applicant. If the E-2 visa is approved, it may take up to a week for the visa itself to be issued. Some U.S. consulates post estimated processing times on their websites, although these estimates are not a guarantee of processing times. Currently, Consulates such as Amsterdam and Rome are scheduling interviews more than three months after applications are filed, while the U.S. Consulate in Toronto is scheduling interviews in under three weeks after application. Because processing times depend on individual Consulates and approval of an E-2 visa is not guaranteed, applicants should not schedule travel to the United States until the visa has been placed in their passport. As with the USCIS process, the attorneys of Colombo & Hurd can assist E-2 investment visa applicants with applying for a visa through a U.S. Consulate.
While the length of time required to obtain an E-2 investment visa may vary based on your particular circumstances, our experienced E2 visa attorneys can assist you through each step of the process. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact our Orlando office at (407) 478-1111 or our Miami office at (305) 455-0590.