If you are outside the United States, the only way to immigrate to the U.S. is to obtain an immigration visa from a U.S. consulate (which by definition is always overseas). This option is called “consular processing.” However, if you are already in the U.S., you can either apply for an Adjustment of Status (“AOS”) with the USCIS center or go through consular processing.
There is generally a bar on adjusting status if you enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. This is unless you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. However, the USCIS will make exceptions. One such exception is if you request to adjust status to the E-2 classification.
The E-2 nonimmigrant classification changes your status to “E-2 Treaty Investor.” E-2 classification initially enables nationals of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States for two years if they invest, or in some cases their employer invests, a substantial amount of capital into a United States business. Requests for extensions may be granted for up to 2 years, and there is no limit on the number extensions you can receive. http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/fees/treaty.html
After the USCIS processes your application and grants your Adjustment of Status to E-2 Treaty Investor, you will generally be allowed an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States. This means you can travel freely, in and out of the United States, for two years. However, if you cannot stay in the United States while the USCIS processes your change of status (which can take several years), you must apply for an Investment Visa at a U.S. Consulate (which has a much shorter processing time of around 4-6 months).
An E-2 Investor Visa is essentially the overseas form of E-2 classification. Persons outside of the U.S. apply for this option through consular processing at a U.S. consulate. The E-2 classification and the E-2 Visa both make you a “Treaty Investor.” They both have the same general qualifications, terms and conditions, and family immigration rules. However, their application processes are entirely different.
If you have any questions or would like more information about becoming an E-2 Treaty Investor, contact Boyer Law Firm today.