If you are a citizen of a country with which the US has a valid Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, you may be eligible for E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. To get this visa, a “substantial” investment in a U.S. business is required. With this investment; you, your spouse and minor children may be eligible for a long-term US visa.
There are two possible ways to apply for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa: in a U.S. Consulate or Change of Status. Please keep on reading to find out the differences between them.
The E-2 visa is the only investment visa that could be adjudicated in a U.S. Consulate. The officials of a U.S. Consulate has a strict evaluation process to check whether your investment is “substantial” or not.
Although the E-2 Visa is commonly requested in a U.S. Consulate abroad, there is another way to ask this Investor Visa. It is also possible to apply for a “change of status” to get the E-2 visa. To ask for a change of status, it is required that you have maintained a legal status in the U.S. under a Visa category.
Change of status application for the E-2 visa is filed with USCIS, California Service Center. You are required to fill “Form I-129” (including Supplement E). You can also take advantage of its “Premium Processing” service.
Here we should remind you that the E-2 Visa issued by USCIS is only valid as long as long as the beneficiary stays in the U.S.
If the U.S. Consulates are the most popular option to apply for the E-2 visa, why should I choose “change of status”? There are three situations where a change of status can be more convenient.
If you need an expedited adjudication, you can use the Premium Processing Service of USCIS. It would take no more than 15 calendar days. However, applications made in a U.S. Consulate usually requires 6-8 weeks of the decision process.
Or, maybe you are not sure whether your investment is substantial or not. There is no legal limit about the minimum investment amount. The only requirement is that it should be “substantial.” It means you can also apply for the E-2 visa in small amounts. However, in this case, it would be difficult to convince the officials of a Consulate about the substantiality of your investment. Therefore, it is highly possible you are your investments under 75,000$ will be rejected. USCIS, on the other hand, follows a substantiality test if a change of status is required. In this way, it seems that the California Service Center also approves the minimal amount of investments, which makes a change of state preferable.
Another situation where a change of status can be a better idea for you is when you already have a pending immigrant visa application. E-2 Investor Visa is renewable as long as the beneficiary owns the Company and the Company does not become “marginal.” However, it is a non-immigrant visa which does not lead you to a permanent residency. Therefore, if you have an immigrant visa application which will naturally lead you to permanent residency, a U.S. Consulate does not allow you to apply for the E-2 Non-Immigrant Investor Visa. However, USCIS allows some forms of dual intent which makes a change of status preferable in this situation.
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