Serious Hardships

Until visa wait times at the U.S. consulate in Canada are reduced to reasonable levels, however, this rule is imposing serious hardships on E-2 investors. To qualify for E-2 visas, investors have to make more than a marginal commitment of their funds into the United States. Usually this takes the form of a purchase of a business, a hotel for example. Sometimes it takes the form of a start-up where the investor hires employees or commences offering products or services. Whatever the form taken, foreign investors want to be able to be where their money is to be on top of what is going on.

What is needed is for the USCBP to realign its policy with the needs of investors and with the processing times of the U.S. consulates abroad, including the ones in Canada. At the present time, scheduling interviews at U.S. consulates in Canada for E-2 visas for example, are taking at least eight months or more. Applying the current USCBP 180-day policy means that Canadian investors can be shut out of the United States for at least two months or more while awaiting approvals. Clearly these investors need to be granted more than six months time in the U.S. under these circumstances. In the normal course of events the USCBP has the authority to grant business visitors up to one year’s time on an entry. So why not grant these investors such approvals?

A False Alternative

It is true that such investors can apply to extend their visitor’s status for another six months from inside the U.S. But that is a needless extra hardship that is fraught with uncertainty and possible unpleasant future consequences while the investor awaits a ruling. Why put the investors in that position?

What E-2 Visitors Can Do

While business visitors are constrained in what they can do while being in the United States, still such a visitor is at least entitled, “to examine or monitor potential qualifying investments” so as to be ready to apply for an E-2 visa. True, the investor must behave as a business visitor and is “precluded from performing productive labor or from participating in the hands-on management of the business.” Still, there is a list of things such a visitor can do. For example, a business visitor can observe the conduct of business, negotiate contracts, undertake study incidental to the purpose of the stay, consult with clients or business associates, participate in conventions, conferences, or seminars, make phone calls, give employees instructions, take clients to their cars and even engage in commercial transactions outside of gainful employment. The key is no “hands-on-work” and no salary being paid. This can all work if handled properly.

Being Reasonable For A Change

Assuming the USCBP officers applied a more reasonable time frame policy for business visitors dealing with E-2 investments by matching visiting times with likely consular processing times of E-2 visa application, and assuming officers were reasonable in how they viewed what these investors are doing while complying with their periods of authorized stay, these headaches could be avoided and a more reasonable business-friendly environment could be created for E-2 investors.

Why not give it a try?