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E Visa FAQs

E Visa FAQs

"E-2" visas, to the United States are authorized on the basis of treaties between the United States and approximately sixty other countries. Orlando Ortega-Medina is commonly asked numerous questions about the process and tries to lift the haze with his handy dandy frequently asked questions list that might make things a little clearer.

Treaty Investor visas ("E-2" visas) to the United States are authorized on the basis of treaties between the United States (U.S.) and approximately sixty other countries. The U.S. Embassy in London is responsible for processing E visas for all of the United Kingdom.

Following are common questions that we frequently receive from nationals of the United Kingdom regarding this very popular visa.

Do I actually need an E visa to reside in the United States if I already own a U.S. business?

Unless you are a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. Green Card holder, you must be in possession of a valid have a visa in order to enter the United States in Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor status. Further, all successful E visa applicants and their dependents are expected to present valid passports in order to be issued the visa, regardless of nationality.

I am a citizen of the United Kingdom residing in Spain. May I lodge an E-2 visa application at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid?

To qualify for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, citizens of the United Kingdom must actually reside in the United Kingdom, and proof of this must be submitted as part of the E-2 registration and application process.

I am a citizen of Australia presently residing in the United Kingdom. Must I lodge my E-2 visa application in the United Kingdom or in Australia?

A citizen of one of the other qualifying treaty countries who is resident in the United Kingdom may lodge an E visa application at the U.S. Embassy in London. The relevant treaty either may or may not allow one to lodge an application in ones home country. In the case of a citizen of Australia, filing in Australia is permitted and may save significant processing time. By contrast, a citizen of Spain residing in the United Kingdom is not presently allowed to file an E-2 visa application in Spain. You should consult with a competent U.S. immigration lawyer for more details about this issue.

I received a change of status in the United States from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Is that all that I need to present in order to be issued an E visa at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate?

No. The change of status simply allows you to remain in the United States until the expiration of the status granted. If you have been granted a change of status by USCIS and leave the U.S., you must have an E visa in your passport in order to return to the U.S. in that status. To obtain a visa you must lodge a complete application with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate. Adjudication of your case can vary from two weeks to six months, depending on which U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate is deciding your case.

How much money do I need to invest?

There is no minimum amount for an investment. E-2 visa regulations state that the investment must be sufficient to ensure success of the business. As different types of businesses require different amounts of capital, the amount you will need to invest depends on your U.S. enterprise.

Do I really have to invest the money before I apply for the visa? Can't the United States government issue me the visa first?

E-2 visa regulations state that the funds must be "irrevocably committed" to the investment before the visa may be issued. Therefore, you must document that your investment meets this criteria at the time of initial application; this is usually accomplished by showing that the investment has already been made. Funds can be considered to be irrevocably committed, however, if they are held in an escrow account solely contingent on the issuance of an E visa.

Must the business be trading at the time I lodge my E-2 visa application?

Yes. The relevant E-2 visa regulations state that the enterprise must be “real and active”. Most U.S. Embassies and consular posts interpret this to mean that the business must be actively trading at the time your E-2 visa application is lodged.

{mosbanner right}How can I possibly start a business if I don't have the visa?

You may enter the United States in B-1 (temporary business) visa status in order to set up (not run) your business. You may not be paid in the U.S. while in B-1 status. If your enterprise requires someone to manage or run daily operations, you may hire individuals who are already properly documented to work in the U.S. prior to receiving your visa. Once you have the initial commitments completed, you should apply immediately for the E visa.

How long do I have to wait before I can apply for a "green card" or U.S. citizenship?

An E visa is a non-immigrant visa and does not lead to either a "green card" or U.S. Citizenship. You may remain in the U.S. only as long as your business conforms to E visa regulations, assuming you maintain proper visa and immigration status.

Do I need an immigration attorney?

There is no legal requirement that you hire an attorney to lodge your E visa application. While many E Visa applicants choose to retain the services of an attorney to aid in the preparation of their case, others do not. It is to your advantage, however, to engage the services of a competent immigration attorney or law firm that is fully familiar with the specific procedures observed by the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in your home country. Failure to observe these procedures will certainly result in significant time delays, may seriously prejudice the outcome of your case, and may result in irreversible financial consequences.

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