On February 26, 2016, the United States Consulate General in Toronto announced changes to the procedures for obtaining E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visa (read the full press release here). Beginning on March 1, 2016, registration of E-1 and E-2 enterprises will only be done at the US consulate in Toronto. Previously, E-1 and E-2 enterprises could be registered at the US consulate in Vancouver as well. This change means that the first time an investor or trader applies for an E visa, he or she must attend an interview in Toronto to obtain company registration. If company registration expires, the trader or investor will be required to attend an interview in Toronto even if he or she has previously been issued an E visa.
Once an enterprise is registered with the US consulate in Toronto, employees of the company seeking an E visa may attend interviews at one of several locations across Canada as long as registration remains valid. Employees of registered companies can now schedule interview appointments at US consulates in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, as well as the US Embassy in Ottawa. Similarly, dependents of employees and principals of registered companies can attend visa interviews at these locations as well.
Two key conclusions can be drawn from these changes. First, visa holders with valid company registrations who need to renew their E visas should begin preparing their renewal application well before registration expires to avoid having to travel to Toronto. Second, dependents may want to wait to apply for their visas until after the company is registered so that they can schedule an interview at their local consulate.
These changes also raise several questions. Will visas for employees of registered companies continue to be valid for up to five years even if the company registration expires in less than five years? Will consulates recognize the current registration of companies registered in Vancouver? In early April, attorneys from our firm will be attending a tour of the US consulate in Vancouver. Following the tour, we will update with answers to these and other questions.