The Possibility of Applying for the E-2 Visa in a Non-Treaty Country
In this post, I’m going to answer a fairly common question that I hear in my practice. That question is…
Can I apply for an E-2 visa in a non treaty country?
To give you some background, E-2 investor visas are only available to nationals of certain countries that have an E-2 treaty with the United States. So, if you are interested in the E-2 visa, which allows foreign national entrepreneurs operate a businesses in the US, the first thing that you will do is confirm that your country is on the list.
Alright, so you go to the list and you see your country of nationality. That is great! But what if your country is on the list but you currently live in a non treaty country? Can you apply for the visa in that country or do you have to travel back to your home country to apply?
Here is the good news…you can apply in the country where you reside even if that country does not have an E-2 treaty with the United States.
I had one example of this recently, where I represented an Italian national living in Rio de Janeiro who wanted to apply for an E-2 visa. Italy has an E-2 treaty. Brazil does not. Since Brazil is not a non treaty country, I had not previously represented clients who were applying for the E-2 visa in Rio.
In order to get some information, I visited the state department’s page for Brazil where I found some great information. Since they process a lot of these applications, they list specific steps for E-2 applicants to follow. This gave me confidence in applying for the visa in Brazil instead of making my client travel back to Italy. The detailed instructions were a sign that the officers in Rio know how to evaluate these applications. Thankfully, the process went smoothly and my client got the E-2 visa.
A few factors to consider before deciding where to apply…
While the process worked for my client, that will not always be the case. You should always carefully weigh a couple of different factors before you decide to apply for an E-2 visa in a non treaty country.
Factor #1: Experience
In my opinion the most important factor is experience in adjudicating E-2 visa applications.
I will give you an example of how you may want to approach this…
Let’s say you are a French National who is considering applying for the E-2 visa in Dubai where you are currently living. You want to make sure that the embassy is experienced in handling these cases. But how can you tell?
To find out if the post has the proper experience, you could review the state department statistics that they frequently release online. When you pull up the stats you see that Dubai issued one E-2 visa last month. They are on the board, but that number hardly inspires confidence that they have the experience that you want for this massively important process(NOTE: I am using the March 2022 statistics for this example).
You could then compare that to the numbers for Paris. When you pull up the numbers for Paris, you see that they issued 338 E-2 visas in the same month. Therefore, Paris is probably your best bet as long as you have made an adequate investment and you meet all of the requirements. Their officers see a lot of E-2 visa applications and they are probably in a far position to evaluate your qualifications.
Factor #2: Interview Availability
Even if the country where you reside has experience in adjudicating E-2 visa applications, you should consider interview availability. Unfortunately, there are huge differences in the wait times between posts.
As a starting point you can visit this page on the state department website to look at the wait times. But, these projections are oftentimes inaccurate, so reach out to the particular post through which you are planning to apply to verify the wait times.
Conclusion: Applying for the E-2 Visa in a Non-Treaty Country
So there you have it. You can apply for an E-2 visa in a non treaty country. However, you should check wait times and evaluate the post’s experience in handling E-2 visa cases before you decide where to apply.
I hope this information was helpful. Of course if you are interested in the E-2 visa, I encourage you to reach out to one of the many talented us immigration lawyers that you can find across the globe.
Thanks for your time!
Benjamin Frear, Esq.
Immigration Lawyer for Entrepreneurs