E-2 Visa and Premium Processing
The E-2 visa is a valuable immigration option for individuals looking to invest a substantial amount of money in a United States business enterprise.
This article provides a quick guide to understanding the E-2 visa in connection with the USCIS expedite (premium) processing.
What is the E-2 Visa?
The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa category that allows individuals from treaty countries to reside in the United States to invest in and manage businesses.
To qualify, the investor must be a citizen of a country that has a bilateral treaty of commerce and navigation or a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. The investor must also demonstrate that they are making a substantial investment in a bona fide enterprise, which can include starting a new business or acquiring an existing one.
Understanding USCIS Premium Processing Option
Premium processing is a service offered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides faster processing times for certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa petitions.
By paying an additional fee ($2,500 as of the date of this article), applicants can request expedited review of their applications, typically receiving a response within 15 calendar days.
This service is designed to address urgent situations such as impending business trips or job offers that require quick visa approval and it is exclusively available for immigration petitions filed from whitin the United States with USCIS in employment-based immigration categories and for certain types of green card petitions (not family-based).
Is E-2 Visa Eligible for Premium Processing?
The only place where it is possible to obtain a “visa”, including the E-2 visa, is a U.S. Consulate abroad. No visa applied for at a consular post is available for premium processing with no exceptions, including the E-2 visa.
You can only try to expedite an interview appointment at the consulate by applying for an “expedite interview appointment”. Such application, that is free of charges, may be granted or denied depending on many factors, including consular workload and reason for the request.
As noted above, premium processing is available only when an application is filed from the United States for an extension or change of nonimmigrant status or for certain immigrant petitions.
But here is the catch: when you apply from the US you would not get a “visa”, you would only get a “status”. The main difference between a visa and a status is that the visa will allow you to travel in and out the U.S. without losing the immigration status obtained through the visa, whereas the status gives you the same rights that you would be granted by a visa, except the possibility to travel outside the U.S.
Meaning: if you have a status of course you can travel, but the status would be lost upon departure from the U.S. At that point, the available options to regain the same status are: (i) applying for the correspondent visa at a U.S. consular post abroad or (ii) coming back to the U.S. on another visa (typically B-1 / B-2) and then file again for change of status.
The first option remains the most logical.
Visa vs. Change of Status
In sum, if you apply for a visa you will be forced to work according to the consular schedule (appointment availabilty and date is up to them and not to you, and expedite appointment is discretionary), but ultimately you will get a better result, which is a visa that will allow you to travel in and out of the U.S. without losing status.
If you apply for a change of status from the U.S., on the other hand, you will control your own schedule (in fact, by paying the premium processing fee USCIS is compelled to render a decision within 15 days), but you will only get a status and not a visa.
As previously said, a change of status application is preferable only for impending jobs so people can start working quickly, or for people that are not planning to travel outside the U.S. in the following couple of years.
Some applicants choose to file change of status and visa application at the same time, or to apply for the visa shortly after change of status, which is perfectly admissible, to combine the benefits of each method.
How to apply from premium processing
To apply for premium processing you would file form I-907 together with the status application form (in most cases form I-129 or I-140), enclosing a check for $2,500 in addition to the standard fees. Please note that form I-907 may be filed also while the application for change or extension of status has been already filed and it is pending.
Upon receipt of form I-907, USCIS will be compelled to respond within 15 days of the filing, approving or denying the application or requesting additional evidence, in which case the response time will be extended beyond the 15 day period.
The E-2 visa offers a pathway for foreign investors to pursue business opportunities in the United States. While the E-2 visa, like any other visa, is not eligible for premium processing, a change of status to E-2 is eligible for premium processing but it will not give you the option to travel.
Deciding what is best between an E-2 visa consular application and a change to E-2 status is not always easy, as many factors come into play. Many different aspects should be considered, including the fact that the duration of the E-2 visa changes depending on the country of nationality of the applicant.
In fact, sometimes E-2 Visa have such a short duration that it may be worth it to apply for change of status instead.
Contact E-2VisaWorld today!
Embark on a life-transforming journey to the United States through the remarkable E-2 visa program. Our team of immigration lawyers is here to guide you every step of the way, ensuring a seamless E-2 visa application process. Don’t let opportunities pass you by – seize the chance to establish your business and live in America.
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