Where Should I apply for an E2 Visa? – Instagram live

Angie: Hi! Great to see all of you here. Thanks so much for joining. Going to wait another second for Cristina to join.  Hi everybody, great to see you, we’re gonna start here in just a moment… Once Christina…. there she is.

She should be here any minute, Cristina are you there? There you are! Hi, Cristina.

Cristina: Hi how are you?

Angie: I’m great, thanks! Thanks so much for joining and thank you everybody who’s joined us on the Instagram Live today. Welcome! Today we’re gonna talk a little bit about filing through USCIS or filing through the Department of State and I am going to say everything in English so then Cristina will do some of the translations and she is much, much better at Spanish and English certainly, than I am. So, it’s gonna be great.

So, let’s get to get started.  So, all of you are obviously interested in E2 visa which is amazing, it is an amazing visa – it’s a really good option for people who want to work and live in the United States and be their own boss. A lot of the documentation is going to be the same but there are two ways to process E2 visas right, Cristina?

Cristina: Right! Bueno bienvenidos a todos, gracias por unirse a este live. Hoy vamos a hablar de un tema bastante recurrente que preguntan muchos clientes que tramitan la visa E2. Sobre que es mejor, si tramitar la visa E2 en el Consulado Americano en su país de origen o en la USCIS que es la entidad migratoria de los Estados Unidos, como quien dice cancillería o el ministerio de relaciones exteriores acá en Colombia.

Angie Rupert es la socia fundadora de Rupert Law Group, Angie va a decir todo en inglés y yo lo voy traduciendo al español y si tienen preguntas, just shoot. Háganlas y estamos pendientes de responderles. Go ahead, Angie.

Angie:  Oh my gosh there were two English words in there. I heard nothing except for “just shoot.” So here we are.

There are two different ways to file as we just talked about so, by contrast many other visas that you will get in the United States you must go through both processes. You must go through USCIS, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, and you must go through the Department of State. The Department of State runs all of the consulates and embassies around the world. The U.S. consulate and embassies around the world so, in most cases you will go through both. You will apply through USCIS, they will approve, then you will go to an interview at the Department of State. But that’s not the case with E1 and E2. With those visas you actually choose one or the other so today we’re going to talk about the pluses and minuses of going through USCIS and we’ll talk about the pluses and minuses of going through the Department of State, so you can figure out which one is going to be best for you.

Cristina: Ok, entonces para la mayoría de las visas americanas es necesario paras por ambos departamentos, por decirlo así. Por el USCIS y después ir a una entrevista en el consulado del país de origen. Ósea, se debe hacer en ambos. Para el caso de la visa E2 esto no es así, se escoge o el uno o el otro. Hoy vamos a ver cual es mejor y cuales son los pros y contras de ir o al uno o al otro.

Angie: Yes, so let’s start by going through USCIS. Many, many people ask me about going through USCIS and let me tell you a little bit about the process. So, in order to go through USCIS you will need to be in the United States, so that’s processing here. You also need to be present for at least 90 days in the United States before you apply, you also need to be on a visa that allows a change of status. So, for most people, that’s a B1-B2, which is the tourist visa. Others are here on an F1 and yet others I’ve had on TN visas, which are for only Mexican and Canadian citizens – that’s a very special visa that only they have. Others are here on H1B’s, which are regular work visas; some are here on O’s or L’s; so, there are variety of ways that you could be here, but you must be in the United States and especially if you’re here on a B1-B2 you must be here for a minimum of 90 days before you try to file for a change of status. So… I’m sorry Cristina I don’t wanna make you go hours and hours and translate everything. There you go.

Cristina: Entonces, lo que dice Angie es que para poder realizar el trámite a través del USCIS la persona debe estas en los Estados Unidos, por lo general si están en una visa de turismo deben haber estado por menos durante 90 días en los Estados Unidos y para poderlo realizar se debe hacer un cambio de estatus de visa, es decir, debes estar allá con una visa y vas a hacer el cambio a la visa de E2.

Angie: Great, so if you change status in the United States, again, you must be present for at least 90 days before you file the documents. But you can file premium processing, right? So premium processing means you will file it as of today you will pay as of today – now they can change this rate – but as of today, you’ll pay an extra $2,500 and you will get your response within two to three weeks of the day that we filed. So that’s great — you’re gonna know right away.

Cristina: Ok. Si estas en Estados Unidos se puede pagar un proceso premium que es como una  tasa que uno paga a este departamento para que aceleren el proceso, es por un valor de USD$ 2,500 y una vez se paga esto el proceso se agiliza y dan respuesta en 2 o 3 semanas aproximadamente, lo cual es fantástico.

Angie: So, the real news is… I usually never advise to go through USCIS and there are a couple of reasons for that. One is that you will have no travel privileges, international travel privileges, if you change status within the United States. So what that means is if you come in on a B1-B2 visa and you wait at least 90 days and you file for the E2 visa and you file for an E2 status and you are approved you will now have status, meaning, the Department of Homeland Security through USCIS says, “Yes, we get it you are now going to be working, you’re no longer here on vacation, we understand that.” And you will have two years to continue that status. But if you leave the United States for any reason during that time you don’t have a visa to come back in. So, you can leave anytime you want but you can never check back in. The opposite of the “Hotel California,” you can leave but you can’t come back.  So that’s the big issue, so if you have any family or friends or anything or a business somewhere else or whatever… no travel privileges if you stay within the United States and switch to E2 status.

Cristina: Bueno, si se realiza el trámite a través de la USCIS…

Angie:  Oh Cristina… Cristina is frozen for me. OK alright I think maybe we lost Cristina, so I’ll go on and discuss… She´ll check back in a moment. So that’s one of the disadvantages to filing through USCIS is you have no international travel privileges, and in addition, it’s usually only granted for two years at a time. So, in some cases going through the Department of State will allow you a lot more flexibility with travel and a lot longer time.

OK Cristina is back now. There she is… alright, so we were just talking about filing an USCIS so when you change status, you’re not going to be able to have international travel.

Cristina: Ok, Yes. Ósea si realizamos el trámite entonces el cambio de status en los Estados Unidos a través del USCIS…Si se tramita así, como hay un cambio de status, se puede salir de los Estados Unidos, pero después no puedes volver a entrar y esto dura 2 años, es decir, como ya estás en un momento que es un cambio de status, puedes salir, pero no puedes volver a entrar y esto se dificulta mucho para personas que… no sé, tienen a sus familias en otros lugares y por eso no recomendamos mucho esto. Porque tiene muchas limitaciones de viaje internacional entonces, si quieres ir a ver a tu familia si quieres viajar… Ósea esto no se puede realizar con el cambio de estatus por 2 años. Es bastante tiempo.

Angie: Great. So, another disadvantage is if you are married or if you have children, filing through USCIS can be very difficult because, although everyone files together, in the same envelope right? So, we do have to file paper, another thing I hate but honestly, that’s my issue not yours… But, we file everything together and you as the E2 investor will be approved or denied or get an RFE within two to three weeks you’ll have some answer. Your spouse and children may take 7 to 8 months to get an answer.  And, if you are here on a B1-B2 visa that means the kids cannot be in school and your spouse cannot work until they receive an answer. So, the kids could be sitting out an entire school year waiting for an answer while you were approved months and months ago, so keep that in mind, as well.

Cristina: Ok, entonces cuando se paga este dinero para que la visa salga mucho más rápido, de 2 o 3 semanas ante el USCIS, esto sólo aplica para el titular de la visa y no aplica para su esposa e hijos.            Entonces, esto es lo que quiere decir es que van a estar tus hijos sin visa, sin poder ir al colegio por un tiempo largo muy seguramente un año completo de colegio.

Angie: Yeah, keep that in mind if you have a family that although it’s fast for you it could be very slow for your family members, and that could really be an issue, as well. Obviously the government fees are a lot more, as well, right? So you’ll have at this moment… so these fees do change, I’ve seen them change, but at this moment your fees will be $460 for the original government form and if you premium process there will be another $2,500 so it will be around $3,000 to apply. And, of course, if you have family members or other fees for each family member. So, keep that in mind, as well, when you file.

Cristina: Ok, entonces cuando tramitamos ante el USCIS en los Estados Unidos los fees que se  le pagan al Gobierno. Es decir, el valor de la visa por el cual uno le paga el Gobierno son muchísimo más altos que en los consulados americanos en nuestro país de origen. Entonces ese es otro tema que tampoco nos gusta de tramitar las visas ante el USCIS en Estados Unidos.

Angie: So, some of the advantages of filing through USCIS is in a worldwide pandemic as we have been… USCIS is open, some of the consulates and embassies were not. Now, they are starting to all be open and filing. Some of them are very, very slow so just be aware of that. But, USCIS if you are a single person, premium processing, two to three weeks you’re gonna have your answer, right? So that’s been a huge advantage during the pandemic and also if your English is not great there is no interview through USCIS. Now, English is not a requirement for E2 visa, it never has been, and I hope never will be; however, you can understand that there may be some questions or difficulty at the consulate if you’re supposed to be running a business in the United States and don’t speak English, so keep that in mind as well. Another advantage – no interview with USCIS.

Cristina: Ok. Bueno, USCIS en la pandemia siempre estuvo abierto, eso fue uno de los beneficios durante la pandemia. Los consulados si cerraron durante mucho tiempo. Ya están abiertos todos y están atendiendo mucho más rápido entonces, si tú eras una persona soltera/o que estaba en Estados Unidos, no podías viajar por el tema de la pandemia podías simplemente pagar este servicio “prime…” esta tasa que cobra esta entidad para hacerlo más rápido y, simplemente te daban tu visa de 2 a 3 semanas, sin entrevista. Entonces eso es bueno porque si tu inglés no es tan bueno, si el inglés del inversionista no es tan bueno, no tenías que hacer la entrevista y no había rollo.

Importante también aclarar que, para el trámite de la visa E2 no es necesario saber inglés, sabes hablar inglés, pero sí es importante porque pues si vas a montar un negocio en los Estados Unidos y no sabes hablar inglés pues obviamente el funcionario de migración lo podría llegar a tomar como un impedimento para hacerlo. Pero no es requisito saber inglés para poder tramitar la visa de E2.

Angie: And I want to make a quick caveat to that. Obviously, depending on where you move, a lot of people move to Los Angeles – that’s a very popular location, Houston, Miami… those are all popular locations. So, if you speak Spanish there’s less concern maybe, because there are huge Spanish-speaking populations in all of those cities. You know, if you are going to be moving to Billings, Montana, there might be some questions or if you speak Ukrainian, for example, or you know, something that is just less common, sometimes that can be a question. Again, not a requirement but a question.

Cristina: Sí, Angie estaba aclarando que los funcionarios de migración también siempre tienen en cuenta a qué ciudad o a qué estado se va a ir a vivir el inversionista porque pues si te vas a ir para Miami, si te vas a ir para Los Ángeles, la mayoría de las personas hablan español. Pero, por ejemplo, si hablas ruso o hablas ucraniano y te vas a ir… no sé, para Montana, o no hablas inglés y te vas a ir para ciudades o estados donde la mayoría de la gente solo habla inglés pues si lo van a tener en cuenta. Angie quería aclara eso.

Angie: So, now let’s talk about… so those are the advantages. Advantages to USCIS: no interview, predictable response time for the applicant only. Disadvantages: more expensive, less time granted and no international travel – to summarize.

Cristina: Ok. Entonces para resumir, los beneficios de tramitar la visa ante el USCIS en Estados Unidos es que no hay entrevista, si estás solo o no tienes familia y pagas la tasa para que te agilicen el proceso ya sabes cuando te van a responder. Se da rápidamente, no hay entrevista y no tienes que viajar del país. Y los dice disadvatages ósea, las desventajas es que se puede demorar muchísimo para los miembros de tu familia, tu esposa e hijos y las tasas son mucho más caras y pues no puedes viajar durante 2 años durante el cambio de status de visa.

Angie: So, now let’s talk about the other option, which is filing through the Department of State, meaning, you would file through the consulate or embassy in your home country. This is absent a worldwide pandemic, this is the way I almost always recommend because generally you have a longer approval time, generally you have international… Now, I say generally because every single country has a different visa relationship with the United States. So, there are countries like Australia, that visa will be good for generally 4 years, travel, come and go as you like. Mexico 4 years, come and go as you like. Canada 5 years, come and go as you like. The United Kingdom 5 years, come and go as you like. But, then we have countries like Egypt, which is 1 entry, 3 months. So that just means, from the date of your interview until the day you enter the United States you only have 3 months. You must come during that 3 months and get one entry to the United States, no international privileges, right? And then a country like Bangladesh, which has 3 months again, 2 entries. So how that works is – and we won’t get into all of the other details about visas – but, basically once you come you can stay for 2 years but you cannot come and go because your visa has already expired. But, for the people who are in – and by the way, five years is the longest that any countries are – but for the countries that have 4 years, 5 years come and go obviously the advantage is huge to get a visa rather than status, and getting a visa can only be done at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country.

Cristina: Ok, entonces la relación de cada país, ósea, recuerden que la visa E2 es una visa es un privilegio de visa que se da para algunos países en el mundo, no para todos. Son países que tienen tratados internacionales con Estados Unidos, dentro de los cuales está Colombia obviamente, y cada relación con Estados Unidos sobre la visa es diferente. Ósea, las relaciones entre los países son diferentes. Entonces, por ejemplo, Australia, México, Colombia tenemos el beneficio de que durante la visa E2 puedes entrar y salir del país cuantas veces quieras. No pasa lo mismo con Egipto, con Bangladesh que sí tienen restricciones, ósea, una vez entran a los Estados Unidos no pueden salir o pueden salir una sola vez, etcétera. Entonces, cuando las visas se tramitan ante el Departamento de Estado, es decir, ante consulados o embajadas americanas en el país donde el inversionista se encuentre, es mucho mejor porque no vas a tener esta restricción. Ósea, tramitar la visa simplemente y puedes entrar y salir del país cuantas veces quieras.

Angie: Great, so if you are from a country, obviously that has a great visa, along when (obviously) the advantage is huge. So, in the consulate or embassy so, in that case, the advantages… there are a lot longer time that you are able to come and go, international travel. But, the disadvantages could be, that you will have an interview and… you know, in your home country. Generally, even if you don’t speak English they will have people there that can kind of translate through the interview. However, you know, you will go through an interview process. In addition… The great news is that your whole family can come with you to one interview, and everybody can be approved, together, right? So you’re not waiting on others and that type of thing. So normally what will happen is every person 14 or older must attend the interview. They usually won’t be asked many questions, especially kids they’re gonna ask them hardly any questions; but, everybody’s passport must be there and everyone in the family 14 or older must also attend the interview. And then everyone can be approved together, which is a huge advantage. In addition, another advantage is there is no waiting, once you have the interview most times – and I’ll get to why I say most in a minute – but, almost every time you’re just going to be approved while you stand there at the window or denied. So, you won’t be waiting and wondering what’s gonna happen, am I going to be approved, I don’t really know… You’re gonna know, usually that day, as you stand there. So, those are two huge advantages. Once you get your interview the whole family can be approved together, and you will get usually an immediate response while you stand at the interview about what’s going to happen with your visa – approved or denied.

Cristina: Ok. Entonces, uno de los beneficios de tramitar la visa en el consulado o embajada americana en tu en tu país es que hay entrevista, que muchas personas lo pueden ver como una desventaja pero, tiene sus ventajas porque a toda la familia de una vez, con los hijos mayores de 14 años, los entrevistan enseguida y mientras esperas te dicen si les dieron la visa a todos o si las negaron. Entonces es mucho más rápido.

David Barrios está haciendo una pregunta; ¿Qué vigencia tiene la visa E2? Para los colombianos 5 años qué es el tiempo máximo de visas E2 que se da.

Angie: Ok, fantastic. OK so in a nut shell… Now, I could go on and on about the E2 visa forever, which, if you’ve ever called me, you know that. We’re usually [inaudible] but, that’s kind of the nutshell. So that gives you the two options, either through USCIS or through the Department of State. In almost every case I’m going to recommend the Department of State; however, there are some situations that USCIS may be appropriate. With that said, let’s see, I am getting a variety of questions. They are all in Spanish. Can you see those, Cristina?

Ok, there are some that happened really early on. Maybe you can read those and respond.

Cristina: Bueno, entonces ese es el resumen que hay. Lo básico de esto es que las visas E2 se pueden tramitar estando en Estados Unidos con un tipo de visa, se hace el cambio de status ante el USCIS con unas características específicas (sobre todo el tema del status), que durante 2 años no puedes viajar, es mucho mas caro etc.

Se puede realizar también ante el Departamento de Estado, en el consulado o embajada de tu país de origen, que es lo que nosotros casi siempre recomendamos. En situaciones muy específicas se recomienda lo del USCIS pero bueno, eso será en la asesoría personal que se le da a cada persona.

Voy a leer las preguntas. Estando en la…. Angie this answer, I am going to translate it. If you have an F1 visa, is it possible to go out of the country of the U.S. and entered the country again with a B1 visa or [inaudible] it on the consulate?

Angie: Well if you have an F1… I mean, we’re not really talking about F1’s or B1’s today; but, you know, with your F1 you need to check with your school. Your international advisors always are gonna have all the information about what you can do on an F1. As far as when you enter the United States, whatever visa you used to enter – that is all you are going to be allowed to do. So, if you enter on a B1, you cannot go to school, you cannot work. If you enter on an F1, you can go to school; but, you know, you can´t have…well we get into a lot of different things. Basically, however you enter the United States, whatever visa you used to enter the United States, that is the status that you have when you are here; and you can only do what is appropriate for that type of visa.

Cristina: OK. There is another question that says, “What happens after you’ve been living in the U.S. in the change of status for 2 years? You get your visa?

Angie: You have to renew through USCIS or you need to go back to your home country and apply there for the first time. The good news about the E2 visa is, it is renewable as long as you and your business still meet the requirements; so, you can renew it for 30 years, 40 years, however long. You have to show your documents to show that it’s still operating and still meets all of the requirements; but, you can apply either renew through USCIS or apply for the first time through your consulate in your home country, and that’s when you get the visa. And again, I will recommend almost always that you get the visa if you can.

Cristina: Ok, David is asking if it’s possible to change status from E2 to residency or green card?

Angie: I assume a green card. So, it is possible, obviously to get a green card at some point. But the E-2 itself never becomes a green card. The E2 will never turn into a green card or anything like that. There are ways to get other visas to get green cards; so yes, there are people who are here on E2s that end up being able to get a green card; but it is not through the E2 itself. It will never become permanent residency on its own – you’ll have to go through another step.

Cristina: OK, ante la pregunta de David que sí ¿se puede obtener la Green card con la visa E2? la respuesta es no. Ósea, no por sí sola no, no después de tramitar la visa E2 únicamente. Se podrían realizar otros muchos trámites, pero no a través de la visa E2 específicamente.

There is a question from Luis Niebles, “Are approval rates higher at consulates compare to the USCIS?”

Angie: Really good question. I would say… obviously, different consulates handle things differently. My experience has been that USCIS will usually request additional information so sometimes it takes a little bit longer. I also think that the approval rates are going to be lower at USCIS if you don’t have a perfect source of funds; and I mean perfect. Usually, I found that the Department of State is a little bit easier on some things because you’re standing right there. They can ask you questions, so you can confirm while you’re standing there. USCIS is paperwork only as there is no interview; so, your paperwork to go to USCIS needs to be perfect.

Cristina: OK. Luis Niebles, sobre las tasas de aprobación que sí son más altas en los consulados o ante el USCIS, bueno, la respuesta es que ante el USCIS, los papeles tienen que estar absolutamente perfectos y la fuente del dinero que vas a invertir debe estar soportada muy muy bien, porque pues, ante el USCIS, como no hay entrevista, no puedes soportar nada verbalmente. Y hay cosas que a veces se enredan un poquito y uno hablando las explicas y las soluciona. Ante el USCIS no, ósea ellos son bastante exigentes con esos temas.

Angie: So, I would say in both we do the best that we can to provide every document that the government will need, either at the USCIS or at the consulate. Usually that’s not available because you know, things happen, right? And so nothing is perfect, but we do our best to always supply all of the documentation so you have the best chance of approval at either USCIS or the Department of State. So, we really work hard with you on that. Yeah.

Cristina: Ok. Pues, nosotros no podemos garantizar que les van a otorgar la visa en un 100% pero pues hacemos nuestro mejor trabajo para que así sea, y los asesoramos muy bien.

David pregunta que si “¿Hay algún tipo de negocio recomendado para asegurar la aprobación de la visa E-2?”

So, Angie, David is asking if there is an specific business that we recommend the investor gets to get the E-2 visa?

Angie: No. I don’t make any recommendations because, the reality is you can either start any business you want or purchase any business you want. Your restrictions are it must be legal, you need to have clients or customers and you need to be able to support employees. Those are really the requirements; so I have had all kinds of businesses get approved. Everything you thought of, many you’ve never even heard of these types of businesses… I’ve had all types of different things get approved. So, it’s really irrelevant what type of business. The important thing is that you meet the requirements, which is why you would hire someone like Cristina and me –  to help you, make sure that you meet the requirements and have the right documentation. But, then also something you wanna do, I mean you’re gonna be working in this business. You’re gonna be directing and developing this business. So, make sure it’s something you enjoy. I mean I would never tell you what you’re going to be successful at or what you would like. So, that is entirely up to you, what business you choose and we’ll help you make sure that you have all of the requirements in order to get approved, hopefully.

Cristina: Ok.  Puede ser en respuesta a David, puede ser cualquier negocio que sea legal, que tenga clientes, que tengan empleados y que se pueda mantener. ósea, que pueda tener el dinero o que funcione para que le puedas pagar a los empleados. Puede ser un negocio que ya esté funcionando en los Estados Unidos y tu lo compras, puede ser una franquicia, puede ser un negocio que tú estás operando en Colombia o en tu país de origen, en Argentina y quieras montarlo allá y que funcione. A la segunda pregunta de David de empleados requeridos, se debe presentar un plan de negocios que sea acorde especializado para la visa E2 que se debe seguir. Y para empezar el negocio se debe tener mínimo un empleado que puede estar medio tiempo, puede ser un practicante, un universitario, pero pues, esa asesoría se las damos nosotros. Nosotros les podemos decir, mira este negocio que funciona, este negocio no es tan bueno, pero, hay infinidad de negocios que pueden funcionar. Angie ha tenido muchísimos clientes que con diversidad de negocios y cualquier negocio que cumpla con estos requisitos puede funcionar para la visa E2.

Angie: So I know there are some more questions; and I’m so sorry, we’ve been… we’ve gone over about more than about 10 minutes. So I’m happy to answer more questions. With that please reach out anytime, you can always call our office in Los Angeles which is – and I’m on WhatsApp, as well – which is area country code +1 323-434-4385. You can also email me it’s ARupert@RupertLawGroup.com. And, if you’re speaking Spanish, you can either fill out a form on our website RupertLawGroup.com and fill out that form and Cristina can contact you.

Cristina: David, un empleado americano tienes la razón en preguntar eso. Un empleado americano debe ser.

Bueno, estamos disponibles, nos pueden visitar en RupertLawgroup.com ahí está el teléfono de Angie, me pueden contactar a mí, yo estoy en Bogotá, los atiendo en español y muchas gracias por asistir a nuestro live y estamos pendientes de vernos en un próximo live para explicarle más sobre la visa E2.

Angie: Right, thanks so much everybody. Have a great day. Thanks! Reach out any time.

Cristina: Chao, estamos pendientes.

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