The E-2 visa is a great visa for entrepreneurs who want to start or purchase a business in the U.S. One benefit is that the E-2 visa can be renewed indefinitely as long as the E-2 requirements are met. One common question we receive is “when should I renew my E-2 visa”? This process should normally be started several months before the visa expires. Below we describe various considerations when renewing at a U.S. consulate or with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.
E-2 Visa Requirements
To qualify for an E-2 visa, the investor must be a national of a treaty country and be coming to the U.S. temporarily to develop and direct the business. The investor must invest a substantial amount into the U.S. business and the investment must come from a legitimate source. Additionally, the business must be real and operating and the business must hire U.S. employees.
Considerations when renewing an E-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate
How long will it take you to prepare the documents?
When renewing your E-2 visa, the most important documents are the company tax returns and W2s/1099s. If the company has already been approved & registered, some Consulates only want to see the proof of ownership, company tax returns and W2s/1099s. However, other Consulates ask to see the updated company information and all the information previously submitted so it is a good idea to give yourself time to gather the necessary information.
Do you have a specific time you need to travel?
If you have a specific time when you need to attend the visa appointment due to work or family commitments (for example, children’s school schedules), you should get started early (several months in advance) to ensure you are able to schedule your visa interview at a time that works for you.
The pandemic has greatly impacted visa processing. As of January 2022, Consulates are still not operating at pre pandemic levels, meaning it can take months to get a visa appointment. Additionally, if you received your E-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate that is not your home country, this could impact your renewal application. Some Consulates are not offering visa services to third country nationals and even if the Consulate is offering appointments, you need to determine whether that country will allow you to enter and what their entry requirements are. Many countries have entry and quarantine requirements which could impact your ability to attend your visa appointment if you do not plan ahead.
Considerations when renewing the E-2 through U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services
In most situations it is more advantageous to file for an E-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate, as many applicants can be granted the visa stamp for up to 5 years and the visa stamp allows you to travel internationally. However, given the impact of COVID-19, the difficulty of international travel and the long delays in obtaining a visa appointment, it is becoming more common for E-2 visa holders to file an extension of status with USCIS.
Is this your first time applying with USCIS?
If you received your E-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate and this is your first application with USCIS, they will expect to see all of the documents you submitted with your initial application. USCIS applies a more rigorous standard for the source of funds requirement than Consulates do, so you may need to gather additional documents to show the source and trail of the investment funds.
If you are filing an extension with the same E-2 company and you file the petition with USCIS before your status expires, you are eligible for an automatic 240 day extension of your E2 work authorization while you wait for USCIS to adjudicate the case.
Premium Processing option
If you need a fast response on your E-2 application, one advantage to applying with USCIS is that there is an option to pay an additional $2,500 to the government for them to adjudicate the case and issue a response (approval, denial or Request for Evidence) within 15 calendar days.
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