May 19, 2022

US Visa Update for Business – New Validity for Visas and Interview Waivers

Just as business travel to the US begins to normalize after pandemic related travel restrictions and “National Interest Exceptions”, so too are the processes for obtaining US work visas.

There remains some backlog, but generally, and to the credit of the US State Department’s employees, visa wait times are coming back down to earth. Specifically in Denmark, the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen has tirelessly worked through delayed cases.

Certain challenges do remain, including the US government’s reduction in visa validity for traders and investors. To note, due to a Trump Administration review, new E Treaty Trader/Investor Visa are only issued with 18 months’ validity, down from 5 years. This brings the validity in line with the Danish reciprocal version of the E-2 visa for US investors into Denmark. While one might hope that our two countries’ governments would consider adjusting their policies and mutually extend the initial validity of their reciprocal versions of the E-2 visa back to e.g. 3 or 5 years, for now, this remains an increased challenge for those planning to invest in the US market and develop their businesses without interruption. An initial visa validity of 18 months calls for significant planning, and, more notably, a quick establishment of their US business before an applicant is called to review their visa.

In the face of this challenge, however, the US Embassy in Copenhagen has recently implemented an interview waiver process and a significant change in its E Visa renewal process. The Embassy will now allow certain applicants to waive the visa interview entirely. This applies to certain visa types including individual L visas. Moreover, E Visa applicants can send in their renewal applications together with their passports for an expedited review, cutting traditional renewal times down by several weeks if not months. This is welcomed in the face of the reduced validity periods. Hopefully, with these measures the processes to obtain a US visa will find a workable, new normal.

Beau Russell is a US Immigration Attorney for Thomas Thorup Law. He is based in Copenhagen.