Don’t assume you will be given the benefit of the doubt – If the items addressed in the cover letter do not match what is specifically asked for then the petition is deficient! This can lead to a denial or a rejection or request for resubmission, which sets back the clock and leaves a bad first impression.
When the case is presented as a change of status to USCIS, the case can be returned if one question is left unanswered, one form page is missing, or one check is made out for the wrong amount. Triple check every detail on the petition or you will receive the petition back a few weeks later and you might be out of status if you filed it at the last moment!
For consular cases presented at the U.S. embassies and consulates, each one is its own island. None are identical in terms of what documents they require, the format of the presentation (If printed petition is required then specific tabbing requirements, kind of binder, page limits per presentation or per section. If electronic filing is allowed, if separate pdfs are required for each section, with electronic tabs or not, with page limits per section etc.). Any errors in following these rules can cause delays or require resubmissions. Some embassies, most notably the London post, now also require proof of residence, which means you cannot be living in one country and applying there for the E-2.
Embassies/Consulates are constantly changing/revising these requirements so one must check the up to date requirements. London changed over to electronic filing this year, for example, and did not give any forewarning at all, so it ended up sending out emails that it would incinerate the petitions received unless applicants paid the post to get them returned. Tokyo first-time applications are also adjudicated as “company registrations”, which takes longer. Paris now has a “Golden Arrow” program with a simpler process for companies who have sponsored 5+ managers/executive/supervisors in the past 12 months. These are just a few of the examples. Make sure the attorney you use knows how each embassy works, what they require/expect etc., or this will cause significant delays or lead to denials.
Do not work around the system! If you previously filed an E-2 petition as a change of status or filed an L-1 petition with the same company and were denied, do not hide that information. Department of State and USCIS share more information then you think, and not being completely honest could lead to suspicion of fraud, denial and maybe even a long-term bar to admission to the U.S. that might not ever be overcome.
Secure an office space. If you are not prepared to show that a space has been secured where you and your future U.S. employees will work, the adjudicator will not take your word that it will happen. You will simply be denied. Don’t be cheap! You must show that a significant risk has been taken and you are “putting your money where your mouth is”, or you will be denied.
Do not do your own homemade business plan. E-2 visa applications require a professional business plan with 5-year projections for revenue, costs and job creation. If you submit a sub-par or off-point business plan, you will be denied. It is the most important document in the petition.
Lastly, do not “forum shop”. Apply at the embassy which corresponds to the passport that you are using to apply. Otherwise the embassy or consulate might reject your petition for lack of jurisdiction and you have start all over again.
If you are interested in applying for the E-2 visa and have any questions, please feel free to contact an immigration attorney and make sure that they have specific experience with E-2 petitions for nationals from your home country.