E-2 visas, otherwise known as investor visas are designed for foreign business professionals and investors to come to the U.S. in order to oversee an enterprise that is engaged in trade between the United States and a foreign country; or a major investment in the United States. These visas are only available to nationals of countries with treaties with the U.S. On this page, you will learn all about E-2 visa renewals and extensions, as well as the validity period, common reasons for rejections, and what to do if your extension or renewal application is denied.
E-2 Visa Validity Period
E-2 visas are valid for a period of 5 years and can be renewed with 2-year extensions as long as you maintain the necessary qualifications. However, you are not allowed to reside in the U.S. for 5 years without leaving the country, you must renew your E-2 visa after 2 years of being in the U.S. There are some distinctions for certain countries that you should be aware of because they may affect the validity period in your case.
Now, once your 5-year period is over, you can apply for a 2-year extension. As it stands, there are no limits on the number of extensions you can take.
How to Apply for E-2 Visa Extension
Suppose you are on your original 5-year E-2 visa term, and you are ready to apply for an E-2 extension because you are coming close to the 2-year mark. The process is very straightforward. There are two ways to extend your status.
The first option is to receive an extension when you re-enter the U.S. as long as you adhere to the requirements that the visa was granted to you. Depending on your travel schedule, this may not be convenient or manageable.
The second option is to file for an extension of stay if you do not plan on traveling out of the U.S. before the expiration of your visa. E-2 visa extensions are granted in increments of 2 years. In order to file for an extension of stay, you must submit:
- Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker
- Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Non-immigrant Status
- Copy of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure document
- Copy of original Form I-797, Notice of Action (if status was previously extended or approved)
- Copy of passport plus E-2 visa
- Employer letter demonstrating why an extension is required
- Copies of personal and business tax returns (prior 2 years) plus payroll tax returns
It’s necessary to point out that if you file the extension before your I-94 expires, then you can still work for 240 days pending the decision. If, on the other hand, you file after the expiration, you can stay only 40 days pending the decision. What happens if you don’t receive a response in those 40 days? You’ll be required to stop working and leave the U.S.
How to Apply for E-2 Visa Renewal
Now, suppose that your original 5-year period (varies by country) is coming to an end, and you are ready to apply for an E-2 visa renewal. This renewal will grant you another 2-years of U.S. residency and can be applied for as many times as you want. You have two options when applying for renewal, depending on the place of the application:
- If you are applying from outside the U.S., you must apply through a U.S. consulate.
- If you are applying from within the U.S., you must apply through the USCIS process.
There are numerous documents that must be submitted. In fact, this is a very complex area of U.S. immigration law, and it is advisable to contact an experienced attorney to make sure that your application is submitted correctly. One of the main assessment factors in your renewal will be the performance of your U.S. venture and the need for you to be physically present in the U.S.
What To Do If Denied
As long as you comply with the renewal requirements, it is unlikely that your E-2 visa extension will be denied. However, some E-2 holders fail to successfully extend their visas.
For example, it is extremely unlikely to get your 2-year extension denied at the border. Border control officers frequently deal with these types of renewals, and unless you have broken U.S. laws or immigration regulations, you should not be denied. If you do encounter difficulty renewing your visa at the border, you can still use the second option and submit Form I-129.
Let’s suppose you are in the worst-case scenario, and your renewal or extension gets denied. The first thing that you should know is that along with the denial notice, you will receive a detailed statement outlining the reasons for the denial. Depending on the denial reasons, you will have to fill out Form I-290B and either of the following:
- File an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office;
- File a motion to reconsider the USCIS decision; or
- File a motion to reopen the USCIS decision.
Common Reason for Renewal Denial
One of the most common reasons why your renewal application may be denied is due to the marginality requirement. Marginality refers to the notion that is specific to an E-2 visa, which states that the business must be profitable beyond solely providing for the owner and their family. The U.S. government wants business immigrants to contribute to the economy, and one way to do so is by creating jobs. Especially when you have been running a business for 5 years, you must have been able to scale it enough to afford to employ several workers.
This is the biggest reason why renewal applications get rejected – the lack of proof that they are beyond marginality. An experienced immigration attorney would be able to help you gather and provide enough evidence and supporting statements to satisfy this requirement.
E-2 Visa Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the E-2 visa, E-2 visa renewal or extension:
Q. Are there restrictions on my ability to travel while on E-2 visa?
One of the fortunate things about the E-2 visa are that there aren’t any travel restrictions imposed (i.e., number of times you are permitted to leave and re-enter). USCIS also doesn’t specify the amount of time you can stay abroad before having to return.
Q. Who can study on a E-2 visa, main applicant or family members?
You are permitted to study on an E-2 visa but cannot join a full-length program like those on F1 as long as it doesn’t harm the primary interest of your visa. Also, your children and your spouse are eligible to study in the U.S. without any additional visas or applications.
Q. Am I allowed to change status while on E-2?
Yes, you can apply for a change of status by submitting Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change status.
Q. What is the processing time for an extension or approval?
Normally, it ranges from 2 to 4 weeks from the filing of the application. Be aware that this can vary depending on the workload in the U.S. Consulate and U.S. processing centers. However, due to the number of forms that you must submit, your wait times could be longer or shorter depending on the form.
Q. When is the best time to apply for the extension?
It’s ideal to file the E-2 visa extension before the I-94 expires. If you file the extension before your I-94 expires then you can still work for 240 days pending the decision whereas if you file after the expiration you can stay only 40 days pending the decision.
Q. Can spouse and children work in the country while I’m on E-2?
You can bring both spouse and dependents (under 21) to the country while on E-2 visa and they would be able to work in the U.S. They would have to receive EAD and apply for a Social Security Number.
Q. Can I apply for a Green Card while on E-2 status?
You can apply for a Green Card assuming you meet the right qualifications. There are a few general paths to obtain a green card. The first is the EB-1 route. If you are an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability”, or “Multi-manager or Executive” you can opt for this route. The second way is through a Family Based Immigration Green Card. If you have a close relative in the United States, it’s wise to explore this option.
Consult a qualified Green Card Lawyer to learn more about these paths to citizenship or E-2 visa renewal steps.
How an E-2 Attorney Can Help
An E-2 visa attorney can help you file an E-2 visa renewal or extension based on the USCIS guidelines. During your extensive consultation, VisaNation Law Group will explain which course of action will suit your case best.