Sanwar Ali: US L1 visa and E2 visa during COVID-19 review

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By Sanwar Ali:

There have been huge COVID-19 related delays in US visa processing around the world.  If you look at the State Department visa appointment wait times page you will see “Emergency Appointments Only”, for example, for the US Embassy in London.  While this may not be entirely accurate, there may be long wait times for many people for US visa appointments.   Visa processing for temporary non-immigrant visas could take months instead of weeks.  If you are a citizen or resident of certain countries visa processing can be much faster.  At the US Embassy in Warsaw in Poland, it seems that for many non-immigrant visas processing may only take one day.


L1 visa during COVID-19

The good thing about the L1 visa is that there is no quota and the fifteen-day premium processing at a USCIS service center in the US is available for a fee of $2,500.   Some large employers have L1 blanket filing which is another option.  The problem is that if you wish to apply for entry on an L1 visa at a US embassy or consulate visa processing can take a number of months at the current time. Again, it is based on where you live.  Visa processing is still fast in some countries.  


E2 Treaty Investor visa during COVID-19 

It is usually recommended that E2 visa applications are made at an US Embassy or Consulate.  With the current very long delays in visa processing at certain US Embassies and Consulates, this may take a long time.  Yet again this depends on where you live outside the US and how long you are prepared to wait.  Even before COVID-19 processing times for E2 registration applications for businesses varied enormously depending on where you live.  The situation is more complicated now.  If the business is not already E2 registered you need to look very carefully at processing times for both registering an E2 business and also E2 visa processing.


Applying for an E2 visa or L1 visa while in the US

Despite many COVID-19 related restrictions ending on 8 November 2021, there are still many issues with entry into the US.  Previously nationals of many countries, including those from the UK and Schengen area, unless coming under an exemption, had to visit another country first and then wait fourteen days before being allowed into the US.  For those who have been vaccinated, this is no longer necessary. 

One option might be for someone to obtain an L1 visa or E2 visa after entering the US.  If you need to obtain another visa, for example, a B1/B2 visa first at an embassy or consulate, you may need to consider how long it will take to obtain the visa for initial entry to the US. You cannot usually apply for a change of status to a different visa from within the US if you are on the visa waiver scheme.   As already mentioned there can be enormous delays in processing time depending on the relevant embassy or consulate.  If you need the visa fast there is also the £2,500 premium processing fee.  Visa fees are embassies and consulates are much lower.   When you next leave the US you will however need to apply for a visa at an embassy or consulate anyway. can help with US employment-based visas

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visasE2 visasO1 visas and H1B visas - can help. is a specialist visa services firm with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details. You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.