Q. We are Canadians and I will be starting a new business in the US in the cleaning industry. I will be buying a facility in Houston Texas. Myself and my family are presently there as visitors and I was told I could file my E-2 Visa application at the Service Center in the US rather than having to go to Toronto to submit it at the US Consulate. Can I do this?
A. The short answer is “Yes”.
If you are in the US, you have the option of submitting your E-2 Visa at a USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over your proposed place of business. However, you should be aware that, should you opt for for internal filing rather than filing at a US Consulate, you are technically applying for E-2 Status rather than an E-2 Visa. What this means is that what you get at a Service Center is the right to work at your US business but there are no travel privileges. So if during the course of your E-2 Status, you decide to leave the US and then return to resume work, you would have to re-apply for an E-2 Visa at a US Consulate. Why? Because only Consulates can issue Visas and Visas are or crossing borders.
So what this all means is that if you have occasion to travel outside the US during the period you are on E-2 status, it is recommended that you apply for your E-2 Visa at US Consulate rather than at a Service Center.
I have seen many shocked applicants with E-2 Status being refused entry into the US because they filed at a Service Center. Doing it this way could result in a major disruption in one’s ability to return to work and sometimes impact on the operations of the business itself. Therefore despite the apparent convenience of filing for your E-2 Visa at a Service Center, I usually recommend the US Consulate as the better bet
For more information about E-2 Visa Requirements, go here
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