The US Customs and Immigration Service has designed business visas for a broad range of purposes and with specific renewal requirements. While no visa applies to all situations, all of them need to be renewed, preferably before they expire. Companies depend on a range of business visas to optimize their workforces, and workers who want to operate in the US need to make sure to renew their business visas in order to stay in compliance with immigration laws. With all the tasks you face in making it all happen, it’s important to hire an immigration attorney for business visa renewal.
Renewing a B-1 Nonimmigrant Business Visas
B-1 Non-Immigrant Business Visas are designed for temporary residence related to business or education. With this visa, you are able to attend business meetings and conferences, sign deals, and execute other business tasks. This visa is valid for six months with a one-time six-month extension. It is not an employee visa. Once your B-1 visa expires, you can’t use it to travel to another country until you renew it, so it’s best to renew it before it expires.
As with most business visa renewals, renewing your B-1 visa essentially means repeating your initial application process. This means you will need to fill out a new application form, gather and present documentation, and attend a visa interview. The timeline for a B-1 visa renewal depends on the U.S. Embassy or consulate where you are applying. Each embassy and consulate has its own processing times based on appointment schedules, staffing, and pending visa applications. You can check the estimated wait time for a B visa interview appointment at your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate on the State Department website.
You can arrange your visa interview appointment online or by phone with the US embassy or consulate. Depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate where you submitted your visa application, you may be able to renew your visa without another interview. The following documents must be brought to your interview or submitted online if your interview is waived:
- Completed form DS-160
- Valid passport and passport-size pictures that follow the guidelines for your visa.
- Supporting documents like bank statements, travel itineraries and proof that you can support yourself financially, and any invitation letters from family or friends, if applicable.
- A business invitation letter if you are being sent to the US by your employer for a business trip.
- Fee for your visa
Renewing an Employment First Preference (E1) Priority Workers Visa
As an E1 visa holder you’ve been deemed as either someone with extraordinary skills, a professor, a researcher, or a multinational business professional, and are in the U.S. to conduct trade that aligns with treaties signed by your home country.
Similar to most business visa renewals, you are required to produce documentation, although the nature of the documents are specific to the E1 visa type, including:
- A cover letter that describes your enterprise and beneficiary, including proof that you are a national from the treaty country and that your trade activities are substantial and mostly with the U.S. If you’re an employee, the letter should show that you’re either destined to an executive/supervisory position or that you have the skills essential to your firm’s operation in the United States. Finally, the letter should note that you intend to leave the U.S. when the E-1 status terminates.
- Forms that include a DS-160 Confirmation Sheet, DS-156E, and a payment receipt for your Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fee. If you’re an employee (and not an investor), you should include a detailed letter on company letterhead that describes your job. Also, if applicable, you should include a signed letter of agreement between yourself and your legal representative that includes contact information for both of you.
- Your individual information, including a color photocopy of the bio data on your passport, along with copies of any US visas, entry/exit stamps, and I-94’s you may have; a copy of USCIS Form I-797 for changes or extensions; and your resume or CV and educational credentials.
- Business ownership information, including Articles of Incorporation/Organization or equivalent for the US business; ownership-confirming documents like Share certificates, Operating Agreement, etc.; passport details of parent company owners. If the U.S. business is linked to a foreign corporation, you should provide the relevant documents.
- Trade activity documents, including a spreadsheet of all qualifying international transactions from the last year, copies of transactions and air/shipping invoices, and the most recent US federal tax returns.
E1 business visa renewal interview
In-person interviews are more likely required for E1 visa renewals than for B1 business visa renewals. It’s best to go into the interview ready to discuss all your documentation and business/company in detail and to demonstrate how your trade is international and substantial in volume. Definitely let your interviewing officer know if you are planning to hire U.S. employees.
Renewing an Employment Second Preference (E2) Treaty Investor Visa
While the E1 visa is for nationals of a treaty country who require entry to engage in international trade on their own behalf, the E2 visa is for those who wish to be in the U.S. when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business”. Like the E1, the E2 is valid for two years with unlimited two-year extensions.
To extend this visa, you will have to prove that you made a substantial investment with lawfully obtained funds into a commercial enterprise in the United States that is “at risk”—which means that it’s subject to partial or total loss. You’ll also need to show that the business is not marginal.
The documentation you’ll need to extend your E2 visa from within the US will include:
- Completed Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
- Completed Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status for your family members
- Your I-94 DHS Arrival/Departure Record
- Your original received I-797 Notice of Action if your E2 visa has been extended in the past
- Copy of your passport, including your E2 Visa
- Letter explaining why an extension is required
- Copies of your business and personal tax returns for the past two years
- Proof that you have maintained your nonimmigrant status
- Proof that you are physically residing in the US
Renewing an Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) Immigrant Investor Visa
Under this program, investors (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (become a Green Card holder) if they:
- Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
- Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
How your EB-5 business visa renewal happens depends on two different scenarios. The first scenario is the removal of conditions on your permanent resident status if you have a conditional two-year visa. The other scenario is that you’re renewing as an investor with unconditional permanent resident status through a ten-year validity card.
Removing Conditions on Your Two-Year Validity EB-5 Green Card
If your EB-5 green card has a conditional residence status with a two-year validity period, you should file a petition to remove those conditions within 90 days of its expiration date. To do that, you need to file and submit an I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions. Until you’re able to remove those conditions, your status will still be temporary and subject to change. After removing the conditions, you will then get an unconditional EB-5 green card, which will be valid for ten years.
Renewing Your 10-Year EB-5 Green Card
If you hold an unconditional EB-5 green card with a 10-year validity period, you need to renew it six months before it expires. To do this, you need to file and submit an I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Card. The process is as simple as renewing other immigrant visa categories in the U.S. Unless you have committed a crime in the past ten years since you were issued the card, you are most likely going to have a straightforward EB-5 renewal process.
How a Business Visa Attorney Can Help
Business visas of all types have evolved to become the more complicated immigrant visa categories for the U.S. The tasks of gathering the extensive documentation you need to prove your productive ventures in the country can take valuable time away from actually tending to your business or investment. By reviewing your application and accompanying documents and offering insights as to how to handle interviews and other parts of the process, an experienced business visa attorney can help you get your renewal approved far more quickly.