For E-2 Visas, do I apply at U.S Consulate or at a US Service Center? What are the Advantages of Each?

Q. I am in the US as a visitor and wish to buy a US business and apply for an E-2 Visa. Since I am in the US, can I file the E-2 Visa application at a US Service Center in the US rather than at the US Consulate outside the US? I am from Toronto.


A. You can indeed file the E-2 Visa from within the US at your local Service Center. But there is a major downside to this. Even if you are approved for the Visa, should you wish to leave the USA after receiving the E-2, you would have to re-apply at a US Consulate in order to reenter the US. This is because only consulate issue Visas, that is, travel documents. At the Service Center, you get an E-2 but its not really a Visa properly understood. Rather it’s a status document that gives you E-2 status to work in the US. But there are no travel features associated with it.

In order words, for applicants who require to travel while on an E-2 Visa, it is strongly recommended that you apply for the E-2 at a US Consulate rather than at a Service Center.  For more information about E-2 Visas see our website here and our blogs here.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

  • Mitul Desai

    Hi Niren,

    Can you please call me at 416.357.1573? I am planning to buy a gas station in TN state in USA. I am double minded – should I go to US first, buy a business, and apply for E-2 or apply first for E-2 from Toronto. Please advise. I may need your help to file my case. I am a Canadian citizen. I will be investing close to 60% of the business value and I will be 90% owner of the business.


    • owen

      Hello Mitul,

      The answer to your question really depends upon your intentions. If you want to have the ability to travel outside of the U.S. while you have E-2 status, then you should apply for the E-2 first from Toronto prior to going to the U.S. This is something we would be happy to assist you with as we have successfully filed many E-2 applications, and it is important to seek the advice of an experienced immigration lawyer as one has to be fastidious in the completion of this application. Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly if you have any further questions


  • shan

    If I buy the business in US first and then I apply for an E-2 VISA, through the TORONTO consulate, does this make my case stronger towards getting an approved E2 VISA?

    • Yes. If you buy your business before applying for your E-2 Visa, it does show a high degree of seriousness and commitment. However, be careful that you protect yourself in the event that the E2 Visa is refused in which case you would not be able to move forward with your US business.

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