E-2 Basics for UK Nationals

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Operating a Business Using an E-2 Visa.

An E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows the holder to come to the United States for the purpose of setting-up or acquiring and operating a U.S. business.

It is important to note that the holder of a U.S. E-2 visa is only able to work in the E-2 business for which the E-2 visa was filed. An E-2 visa holder is not able to engage in formal studies that are unrelated to the E-2 work or work for unrelated entities.

Can I bring my Family to the U.S. if I am on an E-2 Visa?

You are able to bring your spouse and children under the age of 21 to the United States as E-2 derivate visa holders.

Unlike the principal E-2 visa holder the holder of an E-2 derivative visa can obtain general work authorization and work for any business or engage in a course of studies. This often necessitates careful planning when deciding which member of a married couple is to be the primary E-2 visa applicant.

How Long Can I hold an E-2 Visa for?

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There is no restriction on the total number of years for which a U.K. National can hold an E2 visa. E2 visas are issued to U.K Nationals in increments of up to five years.

While other firms report lower approval periods to date all of our firm’s U.K. E-2 visa applicants except one have received an initial E-2 visa term of five (5) years, the one and only exception being a case filed for a very small business in a US consulate in Australia where an E-2 visa was issued to a U.K. National for an initial term of two (2) years.

Are there any special conditions on UK E-2 visa applicant?

The terms and conditions under which the national of any country can obtain an E-2 visa are dictated by the terms of a treaty between the country in question and the United States.

The treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States contains a provision that results in a rule that the applicant should be resident in the United Kingdom. This therefore raises a question about UK passport holders who are not resident in the United Kingdom.

While our firm has applied for E-2 for UK Nationals who are resident around-the-world the strict terms of the U.K./U.S. treaty do not permit the issuance of an E-2 visa for persons resident outside the United Kingdom. In our experience U.S. consulates seem to have interpreted this provision as requiring prior residency in the United Kingdom coupled with an intention to return to that home in the UK and the legal right to reside in the United Kingdom. British Citizens overseas and other persons holding UK Passports that do not have the right of residency in the United Kingdom are clearly not eligible for E-2 visas.

Can I apply for an E-2 Visa from Within the United States?

A valid visa is required in order for a UK National to enter the United States for the purpose of either working in or operating a business. It is NOT possible to obtain ANY visa from within the United States.

It is possible to “change status” from another visa status to E-2 “status” from within the United States. For example, an applicant who enters the United States on a B-1 visa to investigate setting-up a business might later be able to “change status” to E-2 status and lawfully operate a business that has been formed.

As the “visa waiver” program is NOT a visa it is NOT possible to change status from an ESTA to E-2 status from within the United States. This is the reason that many UK Nationals obtain a B1/B2 visa before entering the United States and do not rely on the ESTA/visa waiver program. While “changing status” to E-2 status means that you will enjoy the same benefits as persons admitted to the United States using an E-2 visa it is not the same as being granted an E-2 visa. Upon departure from the United States you will loose your E-2 “status” and will need an E-2 visa to re-enter the United States.

While occasionally UK Nationals remain in the United States in E-2 status and never leave the country most persons in E-2 “status” do eventually travel outside the United States and apply for an E-2 visa in a US consulate in order to be able to re-enter the country.

Role of US Consulate in London

All visas must be obtained from a US consulate outside the United States. Applicants resident in the United Kingdom file an E2 visa application at the UK consulate in London.

US Consulate in London

E-2 visa interviews are in the United Kingdom are conducted at the US Consulate in London. The US consulate in London is located at:

24 Grosvenor Square,
London W1A 2LQ
United Kingdom


Further Information

Based in New York and London our E-2 visa team are experienced in representing UK Nationals with their E-2 visa petitions. Through our international office network we are able to co-ordinate the filing of E-2 visa petitions in multiple consulates around-the-world.