Many of our clients often ask us whether the U.S. abroad are open, whether they are processing visa applications, and how long it takes to get an E-2 interview.
In March 2020, the Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide due to Corona virus global pandemic. Many of our clients who had an E-2 interview scheduled for March/April 2020 still have not had their interviews and are still not able to come to the U.S.
In July 2020, the Department of State indicated that the Consulates would begin a phased resumption of routine visa services. The resumption should happen on a post by post basis, depending on situation in the particular country where the U.S. Consulate is located. You should check the website of the Consulate where you are applying for an E-2 visa for a further guidance.
Please note that while the Consulates were not providing routine visa services since March, they have been providing emergency and mission-critical visa services.
Are the Consulates currently processing E-2 visa applications/scheduling E-2 interviews?
It depends, each Consulate has its own procedure/different timeline for re-opening. Below we listed a couple examples from the Consulates where we recently filed E-2 petitions.
U.S. Consulate in Toronto
We have been able to submit E-2 visa applications to the U.S. Consulate in Toronto throughout the pandemic. The Consulate has been reviewing the E-2 applications, but until recently, have not been scheduling E-2 visa interviews. E-2 visa applicants recently started receiving emails to schedule an E-2 interview. Please note that the U.S. Consulate in Toronto is currently conducting only 16-20 E visa interviews a week, so it may take some time to get an interview appointment. Please see more information about the visa processing at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto when you click here.
U.S. Consulate in London
We have been able to submit E-2 visa applications to the U.S. Consulate in London throughout the pandemic. Our clients whose E-2 applications were submitted in March/April 2020 recently had an E-2 interview at the Consulate.
Please note that because the presidential proclamation restricting entry to the U.S. to travelers who visited the UK in 14 days prior to their entry to the U.S., the E-2 visa applicants will also have to be approved for National Interest Exception (“NIE”) . After the interview, the Consulate will take couple days to adjudicate the National Interest Exception and if it’s approved, you will have 30 days to enter the U.S.
Please note, that even if the officer indicates that your E-2 visa is technically approved, the officer will still issue Form 221(g). 221(g) form is considered to be a visa denial so if you have a valid ESTA, you should apply for a B visa instead. Please see more about this topic when you click here.
U.S. Consulate in Bern
The U.S. Consulate in Bern recently scheduled an E-2 visa interview for our client whose application was submitted in August 2020 for October 2020. Because Switzerland is on the list of restricted countries, an E-2 visa applicant will have to be approved for National Interest Exception prior to entering the U.S. The website of the U.S. Consulate in Bern indicates that the final determination regarding the visa qualification and qualification for the NIE will be made by the officer at the interview.
Please note that the U.S. Consulate in Bern stated that it is prioritizing services for Swiss citizens and residents.
Please note that each Consulate has a different procedure/timeline for re-opening and scheduling the interviews. Some Consulates, such as for example the U.S. Consulate in Rome do not provide any estimate as to how long it will take the Consulate to review the E-2 application/schedule an E-2 interview.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you are applying for an E-2 visa in a country that is on a list of restricted countries, you will also have to be approved for a National Interest Exception before you will be allowed entry to the U.S. As indicated above, some Consulates adjudicate the NIE during the interview and other Consulates will issue Form 221(g) and will let you know couple days after the interview.
To read more about the National Interest exception, please click here.
Please click here to read our blog post: Travelling to the U.S. from Europe during Corona Virus: Q&A.
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