An E-2 visa is an excellent visa choice for those who have a small (or large) amount of money and wish to invest that money to buy or start a business in the U.S.. In order to qualify for the Visa, applicants must meet specific requirements and these requirements are outlined in an article you can access by clicking here.
This article focuses on the E-2 visa filing process and the types of questions you can expect at your consular interview and how you can prepare.
When you apply for an E-2 visa while in the U.S., your application is processed as a change of status where you will submit a completed application and supporting documentation to United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). If USCIS has questions about your application, they will send you a request for evidence (RFE) where they will outline specific questions that they want answered. You would then answer the questions in written form and send them back to USCIS and USCIS would either approve or deny the petition. During this process you do not have the ability to speak to the person that reviewed your petition and you will generally not be interviewed.
If you apply for an E-2 visa while out of the U.S. (or plan to leave the U.S. and re-enter on an E-2 Visa), you will apply for an E-2 visa at a consulate. This involves completing an online comprehensive application, submitting supporting documentation to the consulate for review and an in person interview with the consulate.
Your examiner will likely take only 30 minutes to review your entire file but may take more time if there is a section that bothers him or her. Here are some things to consider for you E-2 Visa Interview.
Know Your Business Plan. Your business plan will contain detail that an examiner will use to understand your business and your goals. While an examiner can ask about anything in your plan, you should be prepared to explain why the financial projections in your business plan make sense and you should have a good sense of how you will market the business. Even though an examiner may not read every page of your business plan, you should know the contents and be prepared to explain every page. You do not want to be in a position where an examiner flags a page in your business plan and you are at a loss to explain.
Be Prepared to Pitch. Some consulates do not review the documentation before you arrive and indicate on their website that the applicant should be prepared to explain their business and business plan in 15 minutes and tell the examiner why the business will be successful. The idea here is that you should go to the interview fully prepared to explain why the business will be a success, how it will create jobs, and why you meet all of the E-2 visa criteria.
Know Your DS-160 Application. You should review your DS-160 application before the interview and pay particular attention to any questions on the application where they asked you a “yes” or “no” question or to “explain”. For example, (Has anyone ever filed a Immigrant Visa (Green Card) on your behalf? If yes, explain.) If you answered any of these questions “yes” these areas may be a focus of the interview. Often examiners will ask some of the same questions that are on your DS-160 application and your answers during the interview should be consistent.
Know Your Table of Contents and Supporting Documentation Binder. You should go to the interview with a binder that contains exactly what the consulate was sent and you should know the contents. This starts with a review of the Table of Contents and an understanding of which document is in each tab. For example, if you have an employment agreement in one tab and the examiner is asking about hiring staff, you should be able to quickly point the examiner to the employment agreement tab. Similarly, if the examiner is questioning your percentage ownership in the company, you should be able to quickly point him/her to the section of the binder that has your share ownership certificate or the share register.
Answer Questions Briefly. Many applicants ramble on when asked a question by an examiner and provide detailed explanations to simple questions. If a question is a yes/no question, just answer yes or no and if the examiner wants more detail they will ask for it. Often applicants speak and speak and reveal information that may ultimately lead to a denial of their application.
Answer Questions Honestly. It is imperative that a visa applicant answers all questions honestly. If you do not remember something, just say that you do not remember. If a visa is denied because of lack of documentation, you can always apply again in the future. If a visa is denied because an officer thinks you lied, you will have a tough time getting a visa in the future.
Listen to the Question. While many are nervous, you should focus on the question and provide an answer to the question being asked. If you go off on a tangent or do not answer the specific question, the officer may think you have something to hide and are avoiding the question.
Bring additional documentation with you if needed. If things have changed or documentation has been updated (eg. you have updated bank statements, updated receipts, updated contracts, etc.) bring these to the interview. You should try to anticipate the questions that an examiner may ask and bring any additional documentation to support what you say to an examiner. It is always better to explain something and then show the examiner a piece of paper that backs up your claim.
Bring documentation showing your ties to your home country. While a letter attesting that you plan to return to your home country after the termination of E-2 status is supposed to be sufficient, you should bring documentation showing your ties to your home country if you have it. For example, you could bring a house deed, evidence of family in the country or a lease.
Dress the part and be courteous. You should wear business attire to your interview as a first impression cannot be taken back. Also, under no circumstances should you argue or be disrespectful to the officer. At time they will do everything in their power to provoke you but you should always be respectful. (even if they are not). They have an enormous amount of power and they are the person that will make the decision. Keep in mind that their decision CANNOT be appealed.
Relax. The examiner is asking questions to see if you meet the criteria and if you used a lawyer you likely have a good submission. Relax and do not stress about this interview. Often the interviews last 5 minutes and in many cases the examiner just asks 3 or 4 questions. That being said, the interview can be longer if the examiner has doubts about the application.
For more practical or legal advice on E-2 and other visas contact Scott Legal, P.C.. We offer services in a number of business areas including, Immigration, New Business set up, Contract review and development and entrepreneurial support. Call 212-223-2964 or email email@example.com for a consultation.
Ian E. Scott is a Harvard Law School Graduate, lawyer and author of Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing Your First Job. Mr. Scott worked as a corporate litigator in the law firm Cleary Gottlieb and currently runs his own law firm Scott Legal, P.C. specializing in Immigration Law & New Business set-up.