When an E-2 visa application is filed with a foreign U.S. consulate for processing, the applicant will have either already scheduled the consular appointment when paying the associated visa fees, or must wait for the consulate to review the application before being invited to schedule the interview. If consulate takes the latter approach to E-2 interviews, the imbedded processing time can range anywhere from two weeks to four months, depending on the location. The applicant should use this time productively to study the application closely and get to know the submission back-to-front: where in the application the key financial documents are, the records showing the movement of investment funds, the terms of any operating agreement or shareholder agreement at play, the minute details of the business plan etc.
Probably the most important detail to keep in mind as the applicant prepares for the interview is that it is an extremely weighty component in ultimate outcome of the case. Many applicants must be disabused of the notion that the interview is somehow a mere formality. In truth, the success of the case can be said to rest on the quality of the applicant’s performance before the examining officer. The following are strategies to be adopted and things that the applicant should keep in the forefront of their mind when he or she is called before the window:
- Firstly, the interview takes place at a window, with many other interviews taking place at other windows concurrently. Do not be thrown off by the seemingly casual arrangement – the applicant should conduct themselves as if the interview was happening in a private conference room deep in the corridors of the embassy.
- Remember that you have practiced for this scenario. The applicant should have mock interviews before the actual event and have a set collection of responses to certain anticipated questions. Prepare a one-minute “elevator pitch” of what the company does. Be able to articulate succinctly why the business will be successful, how it will generate the profits forecasted in the business plan, why personnel are hired at certain times etc.
- Appearance matters. The applicant is requesting status as an investor or professional employee, so therefore the applicant should present themselves in the manner expected of a business professional. Sport coat, clean shirt, business attire for men and women. A disheveled appearance may transmit a certain lack of seriousness toward the proceedings on the part of the applicant. The interviews are usually very short (about 5 to 15 minutes), so the applicant has a short amount of time to make a good impression and dressing professionally can help with this.
- Listen closely to the question asked and answer only that question. Understandably, applicants may be nervous during the interview process. This can lead them to give overly expansive answers, straying into territory far removed from the examining officer’s original question. Pay attention to the question asked and try to understand why that question is being asked – does it betray the officer’s perception of the business being too marginal? Does it indicate a suspicion that the role is too much a provision of services and not executive enough? Brevity and being to-the-point is awarded far more than rambling digressions, especially with the understanding the whole event will last ten minutes or so.
- Do not volunteer information or documents that are not asked for. The officer has a specific line of questioning in mind and will only ask about details of the case that are of concern. Do not introduce new areas of concern by shedding light onto aspects of the case the officer did not find problematic in the first place.
- Smile and be courteous. Remember that the interviewing officer is not a low-level functionary, but a government employee granted total discretionary power over the case. The applicant should comport themselves politely and respectfully. Even if the officer seems to be overly-brusque and less-than-warm in tone, do not react with aggression or combativeness.
Scott Legal P.C. takes the approach to these consular interviews seriously, and our team of attorneys welcomes working with our clients to make sure they are fully prepared for the interview and are familiar with the proceedings, from the moment they pass through security to the interview, concluding with the relinquishing of a passport for the processing of the E-visa.
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