How to Handle Embassy Delays or Denials When Buying a Business

By Sabine Weyergraf –


Buying a business and applying for an E-2 Investor Visa has its timing challenges. Typically, the seller would like to transfer the ownership as soon as possible and receive his funds. In the past, it was hard to convince a seller to wait 3 months for an E-2 Visa to be processed at one of the busiest E-2 Embassies, London. With shorter processing times, sellers were willing to wait four to six weeks until the closing was conducted. At that time, we were experiencing processing times of four or sometimes even less than four weeks. Unfortunately, this has come to an end. Processing times around the world are averaging about eight weeks. The U.S. Embassy in London is still the fastest, with a four weeks processing time, while processing times at the U.S. Embassy in Sweden are currently taking around 12 weeks.

Hopefully, processing times will become faster in the future. The question for now is how to handle these delays from a visa perspective. There really are no alternatives to the E-2 Investor Visa. The only possible option is a L-1 Intercompany Transfer Visa. However, this requires that the buyer and applicant for the visa operate a midsized company outside of the U.S. and will continue to do so. The processing time of an L-1 is about four weeks.

There are various ways a buyer can explore the market to find an appropriate business. Buyers from visa waiver (ESTA) countries can visit the United States for 90 days at a time to search for a business, conduct the due diligence, and make preparations. A buyer does not have to have a work visa in order to purchase a business. The buyer just cannot operate the business and, instead, has to have personnel in place to conduct the business activities.

A B-1 Business Visitor Visa provides a little more time and more frequent entries into the United States. A B-1 Business Visa allows a stay of up to six months per entry. The visa is issued for ten years. While the visa is very easy to receive in Brazil, it is the most denied visa in Europe and other South American countries. If a B Visa application was denied, the applicant can no longer travel on ESTA.

If an E-2 Visa is denied at an Embassy, there is no appeal to a denial at the Embassy. Very rarely is it possible to change the decision by contacting the Consul or Head of the E-2 Visa section.

The applicant can ask for a B-1 Visa in order to look for another business or to resolve any issues with the already conducted steps towards purchasing or establishing of the U.S. business.

If the buyer then finds another business or any other circumstances change, an immigration status change from B-1 to E-2 can be filed in the United States without having to return to the Embassy. This status change is not a visa. It does not give any permission to travel and it is only valid for two years. However, it is a start and avoids having to go back to the Embassy which has just denied an application.




Sabine Weyergraf is the founding partner and New York licensed attorneypracticing solely immigration law with Weyergraf Immigration, PA in Sarasota, Florida.

Contact: 941-706-4102,

This article is provided for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.


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