During the first half of 2020 the White House issued presidential proclamations that prohibit travelers from entering the US if they were physically present in the certain regions during the 14-day period before their planned flight. Those regions include much of Western Europe (namely the Schengen region, UK and Ireland), China, Iran and Brazil. At the same time, US consulates around the world stopped processing visa applications, so those proclamations did not have a practical impact on potential E2 visa applicants.
Those presidential proclamations all state that certain categories of travelers are exempt from the ban. For example, US citizens are not subject to the ban. The proclamations also state that the ban will not apply to “any alien whose entry [to the US] would be in the national interest….” That caveat is now the lifesaver of E2 visas.
Recall that E2 visas are only granted if the E2 investor has made a substantial investment in the US economy. In fact, successful E2 visa applicants often meet the non-marginality requirement of E2 visas by creating new jobs for US nationals. It therefore makes sense that, in light of the recent spike in US unemployment, E2 investments that demonstrably create jobs for US nationals are characterized as “in the national interest.”
US consulates have now resumed processing and issuing E2 visas. Consular officials sometimes grant national interest exceptions for E2 visa applicants who are in regions that are impacted by the above-mentioned presidential proclamations. Each consulate has its own particularly process for granting authorization to travel to the US via the national interest exception.
Interestingly, another presidential proclamation that limits immigration to the US is still in effect. While that proclamation affects certain non-immigrant visa categories (including L1 and H1B visas), it does not impact the issuance or use of E2 visas.
To find out how your E2 visa application can benefit from a national interest exception, contact our law firm.