Home - How To Change Your Current Visa To E-2 Investor Visa?
Are you in the United States under a different visa but have set your sights on the E-2 investor visa? Transition from your current visa to E-2 successfully.
Changing your visa status to an E-2 visa is a significant step towards realizing your dreams of establishing or expanding your business ventures in the United States.
Transitioning to an E-2 investor visa is essential for individuals seeking to engage in business activities and benefit from its unique advantages. Here are some scenarios where individuals with existing visas in the U.S. may need to transition to an E-2 investor visa:
From an F-1 student visa: Suppose you have completed your studies in the United States on an F-1 student visa, and during your Optional Practical Training (OPT) period or grace period, you wish to establish your own business in the U.S. Changing to an E-2 investor visa allows you to invest in your business and continue living in the country while actively managing your entrepreneurial venture.
From an L-1 visa: As an executive or manager under the L-1 visa, you currently work for a multinational company in the United States. However, you have decided to embark on a new entrepreneurial journey and establish your own business. Given your desire to avoid leaving the country, you are interested in exploring the possibility of transitioning directly from the L-1 visa to the E-2 visa.
From an H-1B Visa: If you’re currently on an H-1B visa but didn’t get selected in the H-1B lottery or anticipate challenges in renewing your status, changing to an E-2 investor visa can be a suitable alternative. By investing in your own business and actively managing it, you can continue working and living in the United States while pursuing your entrepreneurial aspirations without the limitations of the H-1B lottery system.
One of the available pathways to transition to an E-2 investor visa while already on a nonimmigrant visa in the U.S. is through a Change of Status. This process allows you to switch from your current nonimmigrant status to the E-2 visa category without the need to leave the country.
To be eligible for a change of status, you must have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. with a nonimmigrant visa, maintain a valid nonimmigrant status, adhere to the conditions of your current status, and have no violations or criminal offenses that would render you ineligible.
Do not assume that your status has been approved until you receive official approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). During the processing period, refrain from making any changes to your activities in the United States, including employment, as you are not authorized to work for the E-2 company or any other employer until your change of status is approved.
After carefully assessing your eligibility and ensuring that you satisfy all the requirements, you can proceed with the application process for a Change of Status to an E-2 investor visa. Below are the next steps to follow:
1. Complete Form I-539: Fill out Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status), which serves as your application for a Change of Status. Provide accurate and up-to-date information, including your personal details, current nonimmigrant status, and the requested change to E-2 investor status.
2. Gather supporting documentation: Compile all the required supporting documentation to accompany your Form I-539. This typically includes evidence of your investment in a qualifying enterprise, a detailed business plan, financial statements, proof of funds, business incorporation documents, lease agreements, and other relevant materials demonstrating your eligibility for the E-2 investor visa.
3. Pay the required fees: Review the USCIS website to determine the applicable filing fees for your Change of Status application. Ensure that you include the correct payment method and submit the required fees along with your application. Keep copies of all payment receipts for your records.
If you are eager to start working for the E-2 company at the earliest opportunity, you can expedite the process by paying a premium processing fee of $2,500. This ensures that USCIS will decide on your petition within 15 days. However, remember that this only expedites your application process but does not increase your chances of being approved.
4. Submit your application: Compile all the completed forms and supporting documentation into a comprehensive application package. Follow the USCIS guidelines for submission, which may include filing fees, additional forms, and mailing instructions.
5. Await USCIS decision: After submitting your application, USCIS will review your case and make a decision regarding your Change of Status request. Closely monitor your mail and email for any communication from USCIS. If additional information or documentation is required, respond promptly to any requests to avoid delays in processing.
Applying for a change of status to an E-2 investor visa in the United States offers several benefits, but it also has its potential drawbacks.
Convenience: Applying for a change of status allows you to transition to an E-2 visa without leaving the United States, avoiding the need for international travel and potential disruptions to your personal and professional life.
Continuity: Changing your status allows you to maintain your existing connections, such as family, friends, and business relationships, in the United States. You can continue to live, work, and pursue your entrepreneurial endeavors without interruption.
Avoiding Consular Processing: By applying for a change of status, you can bypass the consular processing stage, which typically involves additional paperwork and interviews.
Visa retrogression: If the monthly quota for E-2 visas has already been reached while your change of status application is pending, it could result in significant delays and potentially jeopardize your business plans. Opting for E-2 visa consular processing can provide protection against this risk.
Cost: Applying for a change of status to an E-2 visa is generally more expensive compared to consular processing. It involves filing fees and, if desired, additional expenses for premium processing to expedite the decision.
Timing and uncertainty: The timing of the change of status process can be unpredictable, and there is no guarantee of approval. Delays in processing or potential requests for additional evidence can create uncertainty and impact your plans and ability to work.
Inability to travel: Once you have submitted your change of status application, it is generally advised not to travel outside the United States until you receive a decision. Traveling before approval may be seen as abandoning the application and can lead to its denial.
Consular processing is the recommended approach for obtaining an E-2 visa outside the United States. It is suitable for individuals who want to transition to an E-2 visa or those who are first-time visa applicants.
To initiate the consular processing, you must file the E-2 petition with the U.S. Consulate in your home country or the designated consulate for your jurisdiction. This can be done anytime, but make sure you leave the U.S. before your nonimmigrant status expires.
One of the significant advantages of consular processing is that there are no travel restrictions during the application process. You can freely travel outside the U.S. while awaiting visa approval. This flexibility is particularly beneficial if you have personal or business commitments requiring travel internationally.
However, consular processing can be a time-consuming procedure. The processing time varies by consulate, and it can take several months to receive an interview appointment. In some cases, the processing time may extend to nine months or even longer, depending on various factors such as workload and administrative delays.
Another aspect to consider is that consular processing requires you to attend an interview at the U.S. Consulate. During the interview, an immigration officer will evaluate your eligibility for the E-2 visa. You must be well-prepared for the interview, provide the necessary documentation, and answer the officer’s questions honestly and accurately.
Are you ready to transition your current visa to an E-2 visa? Consult for free here to find out your eligibility.
Dependents, such as spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old, can apply for a change of status to an E-2 visa by submitting their own Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, along with the necessary supporting documents. They must demonstrate their relationship to the primary E-2 visa holder and meet the eligibility requirements for the change of status.
Applying for a change of status after your authorized stay has expired can have significant consequences. Generally, USCIS requires applicants to maintain lawful nonimmigrant status throughout the application process. If your authorized stay has already expired, you may be deemed "out of status," which could lead to the denial of your change of status application. To have a chance at approval, you must demonstrate the following:
1) The delay in filing was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control.
2) The length of the delay was reasonable, considering the circumstances.
3) You have not engaged in activities that violate your nonimmigrant status, such as unauthorized employment.
4) You still maintain nonimmigrant intent, meaning you are not attempting to become a permanent resident of the U.S.
5) You are not involved in formal removal or deportation proceedings.
Yes, you can appeal if your application for a change of status is denied by USCIS. USCIS will issue a written notice outlining the reasons for the denial. To initiate an appeal, you must submit a formal request to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) within the specified timeframe. The AAO will review your case and decide on the appeal.
Yes, extending your E-2 visa beyond the initial validity period is possible. E-2 visa holders can apply for extensions as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. To do so, you must meet the eligibility requirements and file Form I-129 Petition along with supporting documents. Start the extension process in advance of your visa's expiration date to ensure continuity of your legal status.
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