Regardless of the visa category in question, sooner or later most foreign nationals will have to attend an in-person interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their country of residency. This important and necessary step is particularly true for E2 Visa applicants. This is so because unlike other visa categories, U.S. Consulates must adjudicate every E2 Visa application. Even if USCIS approved previously or even by their own consulate in the past.
In addition, it is important to note that U.S. Consulate Officials have an extraordinary degree of discretionary power and authority. They can grant or deny E2 Visa applications for a variety of reasons, and often with very limited chances for an appeal or review. As such, the E2 Visa interview itself is a very significant event in the overall application process. Reinhardt LLP has advised hundreds of clients in preparing and attending such interviews. And we share our experiences and tips below:
Preparation is key, and in these situations, it is critical! Preparing for an E-Visa interview starts with bringing the necessary documents, such as a complete copy of your application, as well as passports of all family members, even if they are not present. It is also not uncommon for the U.S. Consulate to request additional documents or evidence ahead of the interview, and if so, that information should be printed and ready to hand over to the officer at the interview. We always suggest that clients make notes and tabs in their own copy of the application, so they can easily find information and references when asked specific questions. For example, many U.S. Consulates have a strict limit on the number of pages in the application but may have more questions about the source of funds, be prepared to bring additional bank statements showing the transfer of the money.
When preparing for an E2 Visa interview, the investor should be ready to discuss every aspect of the business in great detail, from the source of the funds, the type of business and the industry, as well as the growth plan and future projections. This is extremely important because Consular Officers will often ask very detailed questions about the business, the numbers, and the investment in order to see if this business has a good chance of growing and having an impact in the U.S. economy, and it all starts with how well investors can talk about their businesses. Be prepared for questions related to how much money was invested? How it was spent? And How much revenue they expect?
Consular Officers know they have a lot of power and authority over the success of these applications. And occasionally they can seem “unfriendly” or “rude” when they ask very tough or specific questions about the business. In these situations, it is important to remember that the Officer’s job is to make sure that everything in the application is true. So they have to ask a lot of questions. We advise our clients to always maintain a calm and professional posture. Even if the questions seem obvious or insulting, and give complete answers while not giving more information than necessary.
Be ready to address accusations that “the investment is not enough” or that “the business is not good,” with calm and reasoned answers highlighting the strengths of the application.
As explained above, Consular Officers are looking for evidence that this investment will eventually grow and have an impact in the U.S. economy, and that the investor is capable of managing the business, and they may ask questions or make comments that seek to discredit the investor. It is important for the investor to be confident in their investment, their business, and their application, and really “sell” the business to the Consular Officer. We always tell our clients to treat the Officer as if he or she was a potential investor in the business. And the investor has to convince the officer that this is a good business. If the investor is confident about the business, they have nothing to worry about!
Above all, a friendly attitude goes a long way! Be friendly, be courteous, be helpful, after all everyone deserves respect, particularly the Consular Officer who is reviewing your case. If the Officer feels relaxed, he or she is more likely to make the investor relaxed. This will make the situation feel more like a conversation than an interview.
Reinhardt LLP takes great pride in all the work we do for our clients. Particularly the preparation and rehearsal for the E2-Visa Interview. Still, we are not able to be present at the interview or speak for our clients. So we understand how critical it is to make sure the client is prepared and optimistic about their interview!