A year spent in the US in valid J status will not jeopardize your chances of obtaining an E-2 visa at the Brussels embassy. Filing for an E-2 Investor's visa does NOT constitute immigrant intent.
Preparing and putting together a successful E-2 visa application is a highly complex proposition. As my esteemed colleague states there is the need to prepare a detailed business plan, with a a 5 year profit and expense forecast, and much, much more in the E-2 application itself. This is not an ordinary visa application you can improvise yourselves. In fact, "digesting" an E-2 visa application is also hard on consuls abroad, and that is precisely why they sometimes take up to 8 weeks from the moment of receipt to schedule an interview appointment for you. Having the right lawyer with proper E-2 visa experience working for you is a must. Most of us work on weekends and early evenings and will be happy to talk to you. In fact, am just heading back to the US after a client's E-2 visa interview at a consulate in Europe.
Behar Intl. Counsel 619.234.5962 Kindly be advised that the answer above is only general in nature cannot be construed as legal advice, given that not enough facts are known. It is your responsibility to retain a lawyer to analyze the facts specific to your particular situation in order to give you specific advice. Specific answers will require cognizance of all pertinent facts about your case. Any answers offered on Avvo are of a general nature only, and are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship.
Yes, you can prepare a business plan, start your investment ... then apply at the US Consul in Belgium for your E-2.
You will have a better chance of success if you have an attorney assist in evaluating the investment and assisting with the paperwork ... this not an easy process.
No, your 1 year in the US shouldn't harm your application. An E-2 visa is a NON-immigrant visa that has no direct connection to permanent residence in the US.
To explore this, and other options, I suggest you talk to an attorney. Many of us use Skype to conduct these meetings. Some, like myself even meet on weekends and early evenings.
PROFESSOR OF IMMIGRATION LAW for over 10 years -- This blog posting is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Also, keep in mind that this is an INTERNET BLOG. You should not rely on anything you read here to make decisions which impact on your life. Meet with an attorney, via Skype, or in person, to obtain competent personal and professional guidance.
All the visas you mentioned (J-1, B-1, E-2) are all non-immigrant visas. The J-1/J-2 may have a requirement for a 2 year home stay rule, i.e. you having to go back to Belgium for 2 years "if" your country has listed your research profession as one of those occupations which is on a occupations list which they deem there is a lack of in your country and therefore, you must return to home first, and remain there for 2 years and implement/share what you learned in the US for the benefit of Belgium. If not, then the other possibility is if your research in the US is funded either by the US, Belgium or a foundation from either country, for instance Fullbright foundation, etc. BUT if neither situations apply, there is no 2 year home stay rule applicable to you, then, yes you may change your status from J-1/J-2 to E-2 or E-1 depending on whether there is a treaty of friendship or investment mechanism treaty between both the US and Belgium (most likely yes, I did not check the list of countries). Usually though, the more proper visa vehicle to scout for investment opportunities short term in the US in anticipation of a prospective E visa is the B-1 BUT if you intend to stay an entire year then that would not work. Good luck.
I agree with my colleague. Your one year stay in the U.S. will not compromise your E2 visa application.
This answer is of a general nature and should not be relied upon as final, nor is it intended as legal advice. Consult with a qualified attorney before making any legal decisions. Gen Kimura, (832) 247-6932.