E2 visa applicants should apply to renew their E-2 visa in advance of the expiry of their current visa, in order to maintain continuity of status in the United States.
The E-2 visa renewal process isn’t too dissimilar to the process for the initial E-2 visa application. You will again be required to collate and submit substantial documentation, which, will be subject to significant Embassy scrutiny.
We advise individuals and companies on the process for renewing an E-2 visa, including guidance on compiling on the required supporting documentation.
Depending on whether you are applying from within or outside the US, the renewal process and implications on your status will be different.
We can advise on your specific circumstances, exploring alternative visa options where necessary.
With exceptional knowledge and insight into US visa application processes, we advise non-US entrepreneurs and investors, their dependents and their employees on visa extensions to remain in the USA, providing full support when submitting applications to the relevant US authorities.
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For advice on any aspect of a US visa application, contact our US immigration attorneys.
Your status – not your visa length – determines how long you can stay in the US at any one time under the E2 visa.
This is because the validity period of your E2 visa is different to the period of stay. The validity period is the timeframe over which an E2 visa is issued, providing an expiration date up until which point you will be permitted to enter, leave and re-enter the US. In contrast, the period of stay refers to the length of time that you will be allowed to stay in the US on each occasion.
The length of time your E-2 visa is valid for depends on your nationality. The E2 period of visa validity generally ranges from 1 year to 5 years.
So, depending on your nationality, your E2 treaty investor visa may be valid for only 3 months on a single-entry basis while, in other cases, as a UK national for example, you may benefit from an E2 visa validity period of up to 60 months on a multiple-entry basis.
For example, if your E-2 visa is valid for 5 years, this does not mean that you can stay in the US for 5 years continuously. With an E-2 visa, you are typically granted a 2 year admission period by US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) each time you enter the US. If you depart the US and return within the duration of your visa, you would generally be granted a two-year readmission period upon your return.
Qualified treaty investors under E2 classification will be allowed a maximum initial period of stay in the United States of 2 years. However, depending on the period of validity of your visa, you may be able to simply exit the US and seek re-entry, at which stage you should be granted a further 2-year period of stay by US Customs and Border Patrol officials.
For those of you in possession of a single-entry visa, prior to expiry of your initial period of stay, you will either need to leave the US to make a renewal application from a US Embassy or Consulate abroad or apply for an in-country visa extension.
If you have a multiple-entry visa, provided you are still within its validity period, you will have the option to leave the US and re-enter, where you should be granted a further period of stay on readmission.
It is only once your visa’s validity period is due to expire that you will need to apply for a renewal. You can check the validity period on the stamp on your passport or the date on your I-94 card (Arrival/Departure Record) attached to your passport.
It is advisable to start to look at your renewal process at least 6 months before your current visa expires.
Reach out to your legal representation and start the discussions about how the business is performing, and the type of documentation you will need to be collating for the renewal process.
It is advisable to file your visa extension application at least 12 weeks before visa expiry. You will be allowed to remain in the United States until the expiration of your I-94 admission date.
There is no limit on the number of times you can renew your E-2 visa, provided you and the E-2 business continue to meet the requirements under the category.
Something to note here – you will have to evidence with each renewal application your intention to depart the US when your visa expires. For example, that you have accommodation to return to (such as retaining your own residence) in your home country.
In your extension application, you will need to show that you have complied with the terms of your visa and the E-2 company continues to meet the E-2 visa requirements.
This include evidence that:
This means that to be eligible for an E2 visa extension or renewal, you will need to show that you are maintaining lawful status in the United States and that your business is more than marginal, so not solely for the purpose of earning a living for yourself and your family.
In respect of lawful status, this essentially means that your E2 visa status must still be valid and you have not committed any criminal offences that will make you ineligible for a US visa, nor have violated any conditions of your admission whilst in E2 classification.
In respect of your US business, the focus will shift away from any initial financial investment and future projections, moving more towards actual performance. This is because your business is likely to have been operational for at least 2 years at this stage, where it must be profitable and have created employment opportunities within the local community. As such, you must be able to show evidence of both revenue and job creation.
As the requirement to demonstrate treaty country nationality and a substantial investment in a US enterprise have already been established in your initial E2 visa application, there will usually be no need to provide any further evidence in this regard for the E2 extension.
You can apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an E2 visa extension from within the United States or, alternatively, you can apply through the Department of State to renew your E2 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad. When applying from overseas, you would need to submit Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application), together with Form DS-156E (Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Investor Application). When making an in-country extension application, you will need to file Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) with USCIS, together with the E-1/E-2 Classification Supplement.
In either case, you will also need to submit evidence to show that you have maintained lawful status and continue to meet the relevant requirements to qualify for E2 status. The documentation required in support of an E2 visa extension or renewal can be complex, so it is strongly advised to seek expert advice and assistance from an immigration specialist.
Importantly, if you previously applied for your E2 visa through a US Embassy or Consulate, and you have decided to extend your E2 visa through USCIS, you may need to submit all the documentation as submitted with your initial application. Additionally, when applying from abroad, you should check with the Embassy or Consulate you are applying through, who may have specific requirements or instructions when it comes to E2 visa renewals.
As with the original visa application, there will be a mandatory interview stage after you have submitted the documentation.
You will need to apply from within the country you made your initial application ie outside of the US.
For example where an investor has applied from the UK, they would have to return to the UK to submit the renewal application and attend the interview.
Where the Embassy requires that a company application first be submitted and considered, the investors and employees can continue to work and live in the US while the Embassy is considering the company renewal application, provided their immigration status remains valid.
When the Embassy is ready to interview the individuals, the applicants must return and attend the interview in person.
It is possible to apply to extend your E-2 visa from within the US, but this does not grant the holder a new visa.
This means when they leave the US, to gain reentry they would need to go through the standard renewal process at the local Embassy, which could take up to three months to complete.
Your visa renewal application will need to be supported with extensive documentary evidence.
The specific documents will be determined by whether you are a business owner or an employee.
Examples could include for business owners:
Examples could include for employees:
Note these examples are far from complete or exhaustive. We can advise on the documents to be compiled and submitted based on your specific circumstances.
After submitting your forms and supporting documents with a US Embassy or Consulate, you will be invited to attend an E2 visa renewal interview. During this interview you may be asked a number of questions, including your intentions to depart the US at the end of your authorised stay, as well as the progress of your business and your future plans for it.
It is a thorough exercise to assess the actual progress of your company against the parameters and goals you set out in your original business plan.
The business must demonstrate it has achieved what it set out to achieve and made the requisite contribution to the US economy.
Have the business and financial projections been achieved? How many employees have been hired in the US over the course of the E-2 visa period?
You must also be able to persuade the Consular officer deciding your application that your business is profitable and capable of hiring and continuing to hire US employees.
Finally, since the E2 is a nonimmigrant visa, you must also satisfy the adjudicator that you continue to maintain an intention to leave the US at the end of each authorised stay.
f you are applying for an E2 visa renewal at a US Embassy or Consulate, the interview wait times can vary between a couple of weeks to several months, so it is important to always check first. If you are applying for an extension of stay in E2 classification from within the US, the processing time can again be several months. However, you may be able to apply for faster processing of just 15 days using Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service), although the cost of premium processing for an E2 visa extension is $2,500.
If you are applying for an E2 visa extension from within the US, it is recommended that you apply to USCIS at least 45 days before your authorised stay expires. Provided you file your extension application prior to expiry of your authorised stay, you should be eligible for 240 days work authorisation in E2 classification until USCIS adjudicate your case.
The filing fee for Form DS-160 is $315, while the filing fee for Form I-129 is $460. The cost of premium processing with USCIS will be in addition to the E2 visa extension fee, where you must pay the Form I-907 fee separately from other fees. If you submit an incorrect or single, combined fee payment for multiple forms, USCIS will reject your application.
Importantly, when you send payment, you agree to pay for a government service. As such, filing fees are final and non-refundable, regardless of any action USCIS take on your extension request, including if you withdraw your request for an E2 visa extension.
If you are an employee of a treaty investor of the same nationality and under the same E2 status, or you are a treaty investor in the US with one or more E2 employees, you/they will have initially been granted a period of stay of up to 2 years. However, as with a treaty investor, an employee of a treaty investor or qualifying organisation may also apply for an E2 visa extension. Extensions of stay will be granted in increments of up to 2 years each, where there is again no limit to the number of times an employee’s visa may be extended, although they too must maintain an intention to depart the US on expiry of their status.
To apply for an extension of stay in the US in E2 nonimmigrant status, an employee must still be working for the treaty investor or qualifying organisation within either an executive or managerial role, performing executive or supervisory duties, or have special qualifications essential to the successful or efficient operation of the US enterprise.
As a treaty investor or employee of a treaty investor, you may have been accompanied or followed to the US by your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 where, regardless of nationality, spouses and children may seek E2 nonimmigrant classification as dependents. In most cases, a spouse or dependent child will have been granted the same period of stay and can apply for an extension of stay in E2 dependent classification by filing a single Form I-539 (Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status), plus Form I-539A where a number of dependants are applying for an E2 visa extension together.
The fee for filing Form I-539 is $370, although E2 dependants will not currently be required to pay an additional $85 biometric services fee. USCIS has temporarily suspended biometrics submission for certain Form I-539 applicants until 30 September 2023.
E2 dependants are not required to invest in or work at the E2 business, as their status depends on the E2 foreign national maintaining their investment or employment qualifications, but they will still need to provide evidence in support of their application. As with any application for an extension of stay under E2 classification, it is strongly advised that you seek expert advice and assistance from an immigration specialist.
There are a number of reasons as to why an E2 visa renewal or extension application may be refused, including where an applicant has failed to maintain lawful status.
However, the main focus on an E2 visa renewal or extension is often how well a treaty investor business is performing, where you must be able to show that your business is generating a sufficient revenue and is capable of hiring domestic workers. As such, if your US business is operating with minimal revenue and the business is not capable of hiring any staff, your application is likely to fail. In these circumstances evidence of additional capital investment, together with an updated business plan to show how this investment will be used productively, may help to increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Requests for extensions of stay in E2 status will be granted in increments of up to 2 years each. There is also no limit to the number of extensions you may be granted, although you must still maintain an intention to depart the US when your status eventually expires.
If you are applying to renew your visa from overseas at a US Embassy or Consulate, you will be granted a visa with a fresh validity period of between 3 months to 5 years, depending on your nationality. You should then be granted a period of stay of 2 years on readmission. Importantly, even though you can apply to extend your stay in E2 classification from within the US, if you subsequently leave, to gain re-entry after your visa has expired you will need to apply to renew your visa at a US Embassy or Consulate.
If your extension application has been refused, in most cases this is because you have been deemed to no longer be eligible for this visa category as you have failed to meet at least one of the visa requirements, such as the E-2 company becoming ‘marginal’. Your extension application will need to show that the company is succeeding and has made progress in line with the initial E-2 visa business plan.
If you have received an E-2 extension denial, take professional advice straight away to understand your options. Refusals are a complex area of immigration law, and your next steps will largely depend on your circumstances and the reason for refusal.
If you apply to renew your visa from a US Embassy and your visa application is denied, you will not be able to return to the United States using your previous visa, even if time remains on this visa.
If you apply to renew your E-2 status from within the United States and your application is denied, you will need to prepare to depart the United States. Overstaying, ie remaining in the US after the expiry of your status, could result in deportation and restrictions placed on future visa applications.
Any dependents including E-2 spouses will also have to depart the US.
Put simply – no. The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning there is no direct path to permanent US residence.
At the point when you ‘complete’ your work or exit the business, for example, if you retire, or if the business is acquired by a direct owner, you will no longer meet the E-2 visa eligibility criteria and your visa will no longer be valid. Consequently, you no longer hold lawful immigration status and you must return to your home country, unless you have secured alternative permission to remain in the US under a different visa category.
The E2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa and therefore only temporary in nature. Equally, you cannot be in the US with E2 nonimmigrant status while simultaneously seeking lawful permanent resident status, where one of the key requirements that must be met is an intention to depart the United States when your E2 status comes to an end.
However, if you are looking to live in the US on a permanent basis, there are ways to change from E2 status, although you should always seek specialist immigration advice.