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How Long Does It Take To Get an E-2 Visa?

Posted on June 13, 2022
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By Heather Beliles, M. Ed.

Are you wondering how long does it take to get an E-2 Visa? Well look no further! E-2 visas are issued within two-to-four months, generally speaking. 

Applications and requisite supporting documents are submitted to either the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or to a U.S. consulate, depending on where the applicant resides, for review. Upon completion of the review, the respective officer will schedule a visa interview with the applicant. The entire aforementioned process normally takes about three months. After about a couple additional weeks the visa will be issued.

E-2 Visa Process Steps

  1. For applicants residing outside of the U.S.: File the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) & pay the fee. For applicants legally residing in the U.S.: File a Change of Status (Form I-129) with the USCIS & pay the E-2 Visa processing fee.
  1. Submit additional DS-160 or I-129 forms for each accompanying family member 
  2. Schedule the visa interview
  3. Schedule and attend bio-metrics appointment (fingerprinting services)
  4. Complete E-2 visa application file to bring to the interview
  5. Attend the interview
  6. Receive notice (Form I-797) of approval or denial 

The initial steps of the E-2 visa application process vary for different types of applicants – including individuals who currently live in the United States, and those who do not. It is the middle and final steps, however, which are the same.

It is also important to note, investors must file all applications on their own behalf. However, foreign nationals residing in the U.S., who are employees of a business based on an E-2 visa, will have their Nonimmigrant Worker petition (Form I-129) filed on their behalf. Meaning their employer with the E-2 visa will file for them.

To speak with an immigration attorney who specializes in the E-2 visa process, contact our office today. While working with a lawyer during this process is not required, it is strongly suggested.

E-2 Visa Processing Timeline

There are several factors to be examined when considering the timeframes of E-2 visa processing. For instance, where the applicant lives when they apply for their E-2 visa, if they are the to-be visa holder, or whether they are the employee of an E-2 investor. The documents required also vary, depending on the above criteria.

The E-2 visa process typically takes about six months, though a premium service can be elected. The expedited processing takes up to 15 calendar days, and a fee of $2,500 is to be paid at the time application. 

E-2 Visa Documents

Preparing the E-2 visa application package includes, but is not limited to the following components: 

  • Notice of appointment confirmation
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160), as previously filed
    • Or Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), as previously filed by U.S. employer
  • Valid passport(s), and
    • All expired passport(s) in applicant’s possession
    • All previous U.S. visa documentation in applicant’s possession
  • Two U.S. Department of State-compliant photographs
  • Copies of the receipts notating the fees for all applications or petitions have been made
  • Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Investor Application (Form DS-156E)
  • Documented evidence the applicant will return to their home country
  • Evidence the business is a bonafide one 
  • Documentation of substantial investment into the business
  • Any printed materials which describe the applicant’s company
  • If applicable: Marriage certificate and certified English translation
  • If applicable: Birth certificates including both parents’ names and certified English translation

It is important to note, the entire document packet must be complete prior to the scheduled interview date.

For an exhaustive list of other applicable forms (when families or employees are involved), see the United States DOS forms website.

Submitting an E-2 Visa Application

If the applicant currently lives in the United States, he or she will submit their E-2 visa application (Form DS-160) on the USCIS visa application website. Alternatively, if the applicant lives outside of the U.S., he or she will submit their visa application to the corresponding U.S. consulate office in their home country. Individuals considering applying for an E-2 visa should keep in mind there are fees associated with most petitions or applications, which are due at the time the petition is filed.

Preparing for an E-2 Visa Interview

This is the time for the E-2 investor to complete the following:

  • Map out his or her business plan, if not previously finalized
  • Gather all necessary and supplemental documents
  • Compile the documents in the required order to present to the interviewing officer
  • Any additional tasks necessary to prepare for the visa interview

Note: Any incomplete packet will result in an automatic rejection, and a new interview date will need to be scheduled.

The E-2 Visa Interview

The E-2 visa applicant, as well as the dependents traveling with them to the U.S., must attend a visa interview with the United States consular officer. This is required in order to complete the visa process steps. If the applicant is already inside the U.S., he or she will attend their interview with an Immigration officer from within the United States. In the event the applicant has very young children, the attendance of such dependents may not be required.

The interview is when the E-2 investor applicant will provide the interviewing officer with his or her complete visa application packet. This is the final time the identification of each visa applicant is confirmed, confirmation whether the applicant’s home country (and its underlying trade) is a treaty nation to the U.S., the details of the company establishment, ownership and operations are verified, qualification for the job is validated, and the investment is confirmed as being from the applicant’s home country. The interviewing officer will also ask other relative questions to the E-2 visa applicants.

How long does the E-2 Visa Decision Take?

After the interviewing officer rules their final decision, he or she will send the petitioner a Notice of Action (Form I-797), notifying them of their rejected, approved or denied visa status. These notices can sometimes take up to three weeks to receive, though at any time during the process, the petitioner can check their case status on the USCIS website. 

If the applicant receives an I-797c, this is to serve only as confirmation a particular document or petition has been received. Nonetheless, notice Forms I-797 and I-797c are simply that, notices. They aren’t forms to complete, nor do they require any action of the applicant, unless specifically stated.

Conclusion of How Long Does It Take To Get an E-2 Visa?

While there is an avenue to receive expedited service, the E-2 visa process takes six months. 

For applicants living in the United States at the time their application is to be submitted, he or she must first apply online for their Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160). Their application must be submitted to a USCIS office. Conversely, applicants not residing in the U.S. at the time they apply for their E-2 visa will begin their process by first submitting their application to the United States consulate in their home country.

As the E-2 visa application process has been taking about six months, the USCIS has provided an expedited service.This service is known as premium processing, takes up to fifteen calendar days and costs an additional $2,500. 

When the applicant receives a notice (Form I-797) their application was approved, he or she will need to submit a Change of Status petition (Form I-129) and pay the associated fee for processing. Applicants who have dependents accompanying them to the United States must ensure all relevant petitions and applications are simultaneously filed with theirs.

As a requirement, appointments for biometrics (collecting copies of the applicant’s fingerprints) and interviews must be scheduled for each applicant and co-applicant.

If the foreign-born applicant is an employee, their petition will be filed by his or her employer, on their behalf.

It is crucial all petitions are filed and paid for, all copies are retained, the visa application packet is complete and presented to the interviewing officer, and all appointments and interviews are attended. After an E-2 visa is received, it is important for the E-2 investor to remain in status, especially if traveling outside of the United States. 

E-2 visas can be renewed every two years, but if the visa expires while the visa recipient is outside of the United States, he or she must re-apply from his or her home country.

Can I expedite the review of my E-2 visa application, and what is the fee for doing so?

Yes. E-2 visa applications can be processed in up to 15 calendar days, known as premium processing. The fee is $2,500.

How long will I have before my E-2 Change of Status expires?

Changes of Status are extensions valid for two years and can be renewed in two-year increments – for as many times as the applicant wishes to apply. While this is a new visa status, the stamp in the E-2 visa holder’s passport will remain the same, meaning no new stamp would be necessary.

I have an E-2 visa, but I want to travel outside of the United States. Is there a restriction on the number of times I can travel out of the U.S.?

E-2 visa holders are permitted to travel as often as they need to. There aren’t any travel restrictions for the frequency, nor for the duration. Individuals planning prolonged trips must maintain their E-2 visa qualifications though, so as to avoid visa expiration as well as the inability to re-enter the U.S.

I was traveling outside of the United States, and my E-2 visa expired. Do I have to re-apply?

Yes. If the Change of Status expiration date occurs while the visa holder is outside of the U.S., the E-2 visa holder will be required to apply from the U.S. consulate in their home country.

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