How Long Does It Take to Get An E2 Visa?
The E-2 visa enables foreign investors to come to the US to live and work, either by setting up a business in the US or investing in an existing US-based enterprise.
Visa processing times will be a key consideration when filing an E-2 petition, particularly given the planning required to pursue your business activity and if your family will also be applying to join you as E-2 dependants. As an applicant, there are steps you can take to help reduce and avoid delays with your E-2 application.
There are essentially two stages to the E-2 visa application process. The first requires you to complete your application form and compile your petition and all of the necessary supporting documents. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on your circumstances, eligibility and how quickly you can assemble the documentation.
The second stage is where your petition is processed and adjudicated by US authorities. The processing time for your E-2 visa will depend on where you are applying from and whether you are eligible for a premium service.
The average visa review time from a US consulate is around a month and after the review you will be required to attend an interview at the consulate before the visa is approved. If it is approved it generally takes around 5 days for the consulate to add the E2 visa to an applicants passport. You should not book any travel until you have the visa in your passport.
For E-2 visa applications processed at US consulates outside the US, the time it takes to get an E2 visa will depend on a number of factors. If the Consular post is operating under a heavy caseload, backlogs can result, causing delays. The E-2 visa petitioning process can vary between Consulates, resulting in different processing times. Likewise, some Consular posts may not be as experienced in processing E-2 visas whereas others are processing them on a daily basis. This in turn makes some Consular posts faster at E-2 processing than others. If the consulate is a regular processer of E2 visas they may have an estimatate processing times on their website. However, as with the US government, they are not obliged to meet these estimates and will not guarantee to review your application in a set time frame.
If opting for premium processing, you will be guaranteed processing within 15 calendar days of filing your petition. Where USCIS fails to meet this timeframe, you will be refunded the premium fee and your petition will continue to benefit from the faster service. Note also that if you are sent an RFE in response to your petition, the 15-day window will reset when you provide the requested information.
Change of status, in-country applications
If you are applying for an E-2 visa from within the US you will need to file it with USCIS. The average processing time is around five months but this could vary depending on demand and the government is not bound by these guidelines and will not guarantee when a decision will be made by.
When applying from the US you do have the option of choosing premium processing for your visa. With this option you will have your application assessed within 15 calendar days. This means that within that time either the government will approve your petition, request more information from you (RFE) or refuse the petition. If you are asked to provide more information through an RFE, the government will take up to 15 days on receipt of the new information to serve you with a final decision on your petition.
The government fee for the premium service is $1,225. If you are choosing this option it is arguably even more important to ensure your application is comprehensive to avoid costly resubmission if it is refused.
Tips to avoid processing delays
Preparing a comprehensive and compelling application is key to an efficient and successful application:
Check you are eligible for the E-2 visa
This means ensuring you understand the eligibility requirements of the E-2 visa and that you provide adequate documentary evidence in support.
As an investor, you will need to show:
- You are a national from an eligible E-2 treaty country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US.
- You must have invested or be due to invest substantial funds into a legitimate US business.
- You must own, or be in control of, a minimum of 50% of the enterprise. This is important as it demonstrates the purpose of your entry to the US is to manage the investment.
As an employee, you will need to show:
- You are a national from the same E-2 treaty country as your E2 employer
- You are working in either an executive and supervisory character, or have special qualification/essential employee capacity
All applicants must also pass the general grounds for admission to the United States.
Compile the documents
It can take anything from a couple of weeks to a few months to gather and prepare the personal, legal and financial documentation for your application. When all this it in place it will take further time to complete and check the application to ensure the greatest chance of success and file it with USCIS or a US Consulate.
When a decision is being made on your E-2 visa petition, your application will either be approved, denied or your will be served with an RFE. An RFE is a request for further information and you will be required to gather this and resubmit to the government for review. This can add lengthy delays to your visa processing time so submitting all the relevant information with your initial submission is key to a swift process.
Not taking into account the cost of premium processing, the E-2 visa submitted through an I-129 form costs $460. If you are applying from outside the US you will in addition need to submit a DS-160 and the cost of this is $160.
Invest in your business plan
Applicants will also need to allow adequate time to research and develop their business plan.
Do not underestimate the significance of your business plan to the application process. Its purpose should be to provide the adjudicating officer with comprehensive details of your investment proposition with credible projections of predicted performance. You should assume the officer has little knowledge or insight into your area of business, and include information about the market, the competition and your strategies for marketing, finance and operations.
Do you have a question about the E 2 visa?
If you are looking to live and work in the United States as an E2 visa Treaty Investor, preparation will be essential when approaching your application, since your investment and future plans will be at stake.
As specialist US immigration attorneys, we can guide you through the complexities of the E-2 visa application process, providing expert guidance to ensure the petition, documentation and business plan are comprehensive and effective in demonstrating your eligibility.
For advice on your E-2 visa application, contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.