This is an outline of the general steps to apply for an E-2 treaty investor visa. Each individual application is different, but I have listed estimated timing where possible to help potential investors better understand the process. For more information on the E-2 visa, please visit B&A Immigration’s E-2 webpage here.
Step one: The Idea
When our clients initially come to us, they may have an idea for a business that they would like to start or buy in the US. We address the main questions that come along with an E-2 application – whether it is the best course to take (versus other applicable visa options), the requirements and how to meet them, the likely outcome and how to better those odds. From the point that the investor decides that (s)he would like to apply for an E-2 visa, we help them to create a timeline and a checklist of how to invest in the company.
Step two: The Company Set-Up
This is when the client begins investing by either buying or setting up a new company. Typically one or more trips to the US are necessary to sign leases, open bank accounts, and meet with suppliers, potential clients and customers. It is also at this stage that clients reach out to Brokers, US Accountants, and local Corporate Lawyers for specific professional services. Each investment is documented during this period to create a spreadsheet of investment with corresponding evidence.
Often times, the client checks in during this stage with new questions about obtaining possible loans, whether a certain cost may be counted towards the investment, and other decisions which may crop up along the way. The client slowly sends me evidence which I require to draft the application.
Step three: The Application
Once the company is created and the investor is ready to apply, I draft the E-2 application which includes writing a brief outlining the business in its current state and highlighting why it should be granted E-2 status. The brief also explains the investor’s background and why (s)he is qualified to develop and direct the new company. This step generally takes a couple of weeks to prepare before it is sent off to the relevant embassy or consulate. The wait time varies depending on the recipient but generally should be around 1-3 months.
The response is either 1) a denial, 2) an RFE (Request For Evidence), or 3) an approval and invitation to make an appointment with the embassy or consulate.
Step four: The Interview
The client (and sometimes his or her family) goes to the embassy or consulate to apply for E-2 visas. I will prep the client a few days before the appointment, and we discuss likely questions and which documents to bring on the day.
Upon a successful interview, the investor (and his or her family) generally leave their passports at the embassy/consulate for the visas to be added. They are then returned either to a pick-up point or via courier. The timing depends on the situation but with no hiccups, generally takes around a week. We always advise our clients not to book either flights or moving companies until they have the visas in hand.
Step five: Entering the US & Running the Company
Upon receipt of the visas, the investor and his family may fly to the United States and request entry under E-2 status at the American border. The investor directs and develops the company. Often times it is at this stage that other employees apply for E-2 (or other applicable) visas.
Mackie Barham Adoniadis is a US Immigration Lawyer based in London, United Kingdom, and advises clients from all over the world on US Immigration matters. To contact her, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit B&A Immigration’s website at www.baimmigrationlaw.com.