E-2 Premium Processing
Understandably, a lot of my prospective clients want to quickly get an E-2 visa after they set up their business. But unfortunately, the speed in which the visa can be obtained will depend on the wait times at the consular post through which the application will be made. Oftentimes I can estimate the wait based on recent experience, but it is ultimately out of my control.
When I explain this, some prospective clients will ask me about premium processing. They have heard that you can pay extra to get a decision in a reasonable period of time.
So, is this possible? Can you pay an additional premium processing fee to expedite an E-2 visa application?
Unfortunately, you cannot pay extra to expedite an E-2 visa application. However, if you are in the United States on a valid visa, you can pay for premium processing to change your status.
E-2 Visa vs. E-2 Change of Status?
After hearing that premium processing is available for a change of status application, some people will naturally want to take that path. However, there are some things to know about this option which make it less attractive than applying for the visa.
#1) This is not available to people who are visiting on ESTA. For example if you are from the UK and you are using ESTA to visit the US, you will not be able to apply for a change to E-2 status.
#2) You can’t have the intention to change status at the time that you enter. If you enter the United States on a B-1 visitor visa to conduct some limited business activities and later decide to change your status, that could be fine. However, if you enter the US as a visitor with the intention to change status immediately, then the US government might take the view that you have misrepresented your intentions at the time that you entered the US which could create major problems.
#3) The status only lasts until you leave the country. There are some limited exceptions to this rule. But, generally when you leave the US in E-2 status, you can’t re-enter in E-2 status unless you have an E-2 visa.
#4) An E-2 Visa application approval isn’t guaranteed even if you successfully changed your status.
#5) You have to pay a lot for premium processing in addition to the base filing fee
#6) Hopefully, this changes in the future, but at the time of this recording, Spouses and children aren’t eligible for premium processing.
How Does E-2 Premium Processing Work?
Ok, let’s say that you understand the drawbacks of applying for premium processing, and you decide to go forward.
In order to apply for premium processing as the investor applicant, you complete the I-129 and assemble your supporting documents. And with your application, you also file the form I-907 which is the request for premium processing.
You will also pay the premium processing fee in addition to any other required filing fees. The premium processing fee is currently $2500.
However, USCIS can raise this fee at their discretion, so check with their site to ensure that you have the most updated fee information.
After you file you can expect some action on your case within 15 days. Notice that I did not say a decision. Oftentimes, USCIS will send a request for evidence(commonly referred to as an RFE) even if your lawyer prepares a thorough application. When this happens, USCIS will have another 15 days from the time that they receive your response to the RFE. If USCIS does not take action within the promised time frame, you can request a refund. In that scenario, USCIS will continue to review your case in an expedited manner.
Should You Pay for E-2 Premium Processing?
I am not a big fan of changing status mainly since having an E-2 visa is usually much better than having E-2 status. However, if you decide to change status, paying for E-2 premium processing is probably a wise move since it gives you a clear timeline and enables you to start actively managing your business much sooner.
Good luck as you explore the E-2 visa. To gain a clear understanding of your options, I highly encourage you to reach out to one of the many amazing US immigration lawyers that you can find across the globe.
Thanks for your time!
Ben Frear, Esq.
Immigration Lawyer for Entrepreneurs