The application process for the E-2 Visa can be overwhelming and confusing, mostly because there isn’t just one process for applying. Before you get overwhelmed, reach out for E-2 Visa application help.
If you’ve ever looked at getting a travel visa to the United States, you’ve probably heard of the E-2 Visa. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the E-2 Visa is available to anyone from a treaty country. To be considered, the investor must first invest a “substantial amount” of capital into a U.S. business, which could include creating a business on U.S. soil.
The idea behind the E-2 Visa is simple. It’s basically the U.S. government’s idea of a carrot dangling over investors’ heads. All the investor needs to do is choose to invest in a U.S. business or create a jobs in the U.S. It’s a great concept, because both parties benefit, especially if the investor has other reasons to be in the U.S. that don’t quite qualify for any other type of visa. To be with family or friends might be one such reason. Though it is worth noting that the E-2 also comes with its own Family Petition process for certain family members of the E-2 treaty investor.
Everyone’s application is different, so don’t depend on a friend’s advice, unless that friend is an immigration expert of course. The best bet is to stick with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you determine which process you qualify for and, when you’re ready, customize your application.
How to apply for an E-2 visa depends on where the investor is. If the investor is already in the United States (on a separate visa or a visa waiver), then the Form I-129 may be used. However, if the investor is outside the U.S. then the I-129 cannot be used. Instead, the investor must apply for an E-2 nonimmigrant visa abroad at the U.S. consular. Then the applicant must apply to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry for admission as an E-2 nonimmigrant.
You might think the two processes sound exactly same, or like a bunch of gibberish. In any case, not following the correct procedure causes delays. Not only will you have to start all over from the beginning using the correct procedure, but be warned: using the wrong procedure can actually be immigration fraud. Immigration fraud is very easy to commit and very heavily penalized.
One example of immigration fraud is an investor who enters the country under the visa waiver program (the “passport program”). If the purpose for the trip is applying for an E-2 Visa, the investor may be seen as misrepresenting his purposes for being in the U.S. (passports don’t include immigration processing reason for entry). Your purpose for entering the U.S. under a passport must actually be for business, tourism, or while in transit. You cannot use your passport to change your status of immigration.