Last year, when my husband and I moved to the US from Canada, one of our main reasons for doing so was that he wanted to pursue a career in streaming. Over here’s how it has turned out so far.
So, who are you?
A close friend once told me “Who cares? You know what you want, go do it.” She didn’t mean I should walk into an empty room with no pants on (the origin story of this phrase). But she did tell me if I had any desire to move away from home for something I wanted, then make it happen. That’s exactly what we did by applying online for an E2 Visa or Treaty Trader Visa (for Canadians). The E2 Visa is a treaty between the US and Canada that enables people from each country to enter the other with fewer restrictions when they are coming for job-related purposes. In our situation, it was my husband’s occupation of streaming that allowed him to enter the US under an E2 Visa.
It is recommended to read up on all your entry requirements before you apply to avoid any surprises or delays in entering the country. Once approved, I was able to come into the states on a joint Visa. If you travel alone, make sure you read through about V9, a guide for family members applying at a consulate outside of the States. We submitted online for my E2 visa two weeks after we had dropped off his application package (the link to the guide for this is here ). This is what it contains:
Completed Form DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application, signed and dated. Completed Form DS-156K -Supplemental Questions for K nonimmigrant visa applicants, signed and dated Letter requesting an E2 Treaty Trader/Investor nonimmigrant visa that includes your name, date of birth, country of citizenship, U.S. address, phone number (optional), email address (optional), profession, position held at company or organization where employed if not self-employed , wage offered per hour/week/year salary requested per year/month if you are paid by the month date of employment contract with your company information about your company’s business in the United States financial statements and tax returns for business and personal U.S. and home country bank statements; two most recent pay stubs; letter of employment confirming nature of position, salary, length of employment; any additional documentation that supports your request (optional) completed Form DS-156 if the applicant is a real estate developer or businessman/woman with an E2 Treaty Trader visa application submitted to DOS within the last 5 years
After submitting this package, you are assigned a case number. You then need to wait for approval before traveling into the States or you can apply for an EAD card online. For me, it took about 3 1/2 months before I received my green card in the mail. Yours will only be sent if you are coming into the country to be with your spouse. If you enter on a joint visa, it is recommended that both of you remain in the same state until you are approved for residency.
The State Requirements: The requirements vary from state to state for their requirements when an E2 Visa holder sets out to become a resident there. In my situation, I needed three months’ worth of pay stubs and two forms of identification (my passport and driver’s license). It was much easier when we were still living in Canada. We could send in our online application package and it would already be prepared before we even got here. When we were at the consulate here in the US, they gave us a handbook that contained any additional forms or information required by the state in which we were applying. This can be found on the consulate’s website and they will send it to your home address directly.
We applied for residency in Oregon. In addition, you must also have a clean criminal record from any of your previous arrests or convictions (even if the charges were dismissed). For me, this meant getting an old arrest of mine expunged before I could apply for a green card here. This of course is at the discretion of the county judge who did my plea deal originally and I have yet to go into that office. If you have any arrests or convictions, make sure they are expunged before you travel here (or else your visa will be revoked and you’ll be put on the next plane back). I also needed two forms of identification; my passport and drivers license (like stated above) as well as an affidavit of support from the petitioner stating that he could provide me with a home and/or work for at least one year.
Finally, we made an appointment at the DHS office for fingerprints and where we were told to arrive at least 30 minutes early so they could take our photos. My fingerprints were printed on white, non-descript paper and placed in a green folder with my case number written on it. This gets taken to the fingerprint technician where I was told to sit down and wait until they called me for my photo session.
The Interview Process: This is what is the most nerve-wracking about this whole process because it’s never 100% guaranteed that you will get approved for an E2 visa or resident status here in the United States. The meeting can go either way – your petition may be denied immediately during the interview or you may have no idea if your petition will be approved or denied until after all of the interviews are finished. It’s always better to be prepared with any information that might be asked of you. I highly recommend printing out these pages and taking them to your appointment with you in case they ask questions about anything found there.
During my interview, my petition was approved without question but I wasn’t so lucky when it came to my residency application in Oregon. My wife had her application approved right away because she had already spent almost 4 years living here when she moved back home for just over two months before moving back into the states again. She then returned for good at the beginning of 2009 and so was able to apply for a green card right away. I, however, have been using a travel permit each year since entering the states because I wasn’t here for over a year before applying. However, my petition is still being processed just as if we were both living in Canada. This means that once this petition is approved, you won’t experience any sort of “waiting period” before receiving your green card or E2 visa. You will need to renew your work permit (and re-fingerprinted) every two years but the rest of it should be relatively hassle-free (we hope).
My wife’s petition has already been filed for her first renewal which will include an update to her educational background and employment situation. This will be a much lengthier process but we’re hoping to have it submitted and approved by this summer. For those who want a more detailed account of the application process, I found a great blog that gives step-by-step instructions for each part of the E2 visa petition. It’s from 2009 so some of the details may not apply anymore (like using one form over another) but you should be able to get an idea of what needs to be done.
All in all, this is a relatively simple process as long as you have all of your ducks in a row going into it. If you don’t, then expect things to take a little bit longer just because someone along the way might need some extra information to help you out. The hardest part for me was trying to get the affidavit of support from my petitioning Canadian parents and then waiting over a month for them to send it back via email (the only way they could send it securely). As far as I know, you can’t use any other means of sending such documents (FedEx, USPS) because the courier companies won’t take responsibility if anything should happen to those documents along their way. Trust me, I tried.
For more information, you may ask or consult with immigration lawyers in Houston.