Wednesday, July 17, 2019

US GAO: Nonimmigrant Investors: Actions Needed to Improve E-2 Visa Adjudication and Fraud Coordination

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A new U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) GAO report addresses issues related to the E-2 visa, which allows eligible foreign nationals (including their spouses, children, and certain employees) to be temporarily admitted to the United States to work for a business in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital.

The report addresses

(1) outcomes and characteristics of foreign nationals who sought or received E-2 status from fiscal years 2014 through 2018;

(2) policies and procedures for ensuring that individuals meet E-2 eligibility requirements, and;

(3) efforts to assess and address potential E-2 fraud.

Some of the findings include:

  • Currently, foreign nationals from 82 countries may obtain E-2 status in the United States. To do so, a foreign national can apply through the State Department for an E-2 visa abroad, or if already in the United States, by petitioning U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend or change to E-2 status.
  • Taken together, State and USCIS adjudicated an annual volume of over 50,000 E-2 visa applications or petitions from fiscal years 2014 through 2018. State accounted for over 80 percent of these adjudications. About 90 percent of State’s E-2 visa applications were issued, and about 83 percent of USCIS’s E-2 petitions were approved.
  • State and USCIS have guidance, procedures, and training intended to help consular and immigration officers ensure foreign nationals meet E-2 eligibility requirements; however, officials from both agencies identified challenges in the E-2 adjudication process. For example, consular officers noted that E-2 visa adjudications are particularly complicated and resource-intensive, and stated that additional training is needed.
  • State and USCIS view the risk of E-2 fraud differently and interagency coordination on E-2 fraud efforts has been limited. State officials generally considered E-2 visa fraud to be lower risk relative to other visa categories, and USCIS officials stated they consider E-2 fraud to be a significant issue and are taking actions to address it going forward.

GAO is making 5 recommendations to the Department of State and USCIS, including that State provide more E-2 training or resources to consular officers, and that State and USCIS establish a regular coordination mechanism to share information on E-2 fraud risks.

The report can be accessed here.


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