If you are outside of the United States, you must apply for an E-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate. The application is normally done at the U.S. Consulate in the country in which you reside but there are exceptions or cases where applicants may have options. This blog post outlines some instances where an applicant may choose to apply for an E-2 visa at a location other than in the country where he/she resides. You can find out more about E-2 visas by clicking here.
Most U.S. Consulates have specific instructions regarding who can and cannot apply there. For example, the U.S. Consulate in London has a strict rule that only applicants who reside in the U.K. can apply for an E-2 visa there. This is a common rule for most Consulates so you should check the Consular website to see their rules. Consulates located in Non-Treaty countries (eg. Brazil, South Africa) will accept E-2 visa applications also. While these countries will accept E-2 visa applications, they often do not receive many applications, and this could work against an applicant if the Consulate is not that familiar with the rules.
In some cases, Consulates may accept your E-2 visa application if you reside in one country but have citizenship from another country. For example, a person living in Spain with a Canadian passport, would have the option of applying in Madrid or Toronto. Venue can be very important with E-2 visas as many Consulates have different E-2 visa requirements and some are stricter than others.
While most Consulates impose some restrictions regarding who can apply there, some do not. As such, there are a few Consulates that will accept applications from anyone. Other Consulates may impose specific rules. For example, the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, will accept applications from nationals that are not Canadian as long as the applicants currently reside in the U.S. As such, someone in the U.S. on for example an H-1B visa could apply for an E-2 visa in Toronto. Other Consulates (For example in Belize and Dominican Republic) will accept E-2 visa renewals without any ties to that country.
You may also be able to apply for an E-2 visa at a Consulate if you have some ties to that Country even if you do not have a passport or do not currently live there. For example, a residency card, pay taxes, own property, etc. This will be fact specific but may be an option.
If you are in the United States you may also have the option of applying through USCIS but this is typically discouraged. You can find out more about USCIS filings by clicking here.
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