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Small Businesses as Engines of the US Economy – The E-2 Visa

Small Businesses as Engines of the US Economy – The E-2 Visa

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa can provide a unique opportunity for many who wish to kick start a new business in the USA, but it is important to understand some of the core features of this category, for you to decide whether E-2 is the right route for you. If you are researching your immigration options, your mind is likely to be swamped with a myriad of letter-number combinations ascribed to the many different visa categories available.

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa can provide a unique opportunity for many who wish to kick start a new business in the USA, but it is important to understand some of the core features of this category, for you to decide whether E-2 is the right route for you.

So who is the E-2 suitable for?

If you are researching your immigration options, your mind is likely to be swamped with a myriad of letter-number combinations ascribed to the many different visa categories available.

One of the key attractive features of the E-2 is that it presents an opportunity for those who are not running an existing business in their home country: this aspect of the E-2 is unique, since other similar visa types are engineered to form a bridge between a US company and an existing company abroad, and enable an executive or manager to reside there with the purpose of establishing one.

This is not the case with the E-2, which allows an individual to begin a brand new business in the USA through a capital investment sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise, and helps many non-US citizens to start small firms. The business owner, and their family, are able to live in the USA on this basis, and may continue to live there legally as long as the business is a going concern.
The primary pitfall identified with the E-2 by some is that it does not provide the longevity of permanent residence: if the requirements of the E-2 are not continually met, and your business hits hard times, your visa may not be renewed. 

If you are looking for permanency and security through a green card, then there are subsequent routes available through removing your E-2 status and switching to a different category further down the road.

What is the US looking for?

If there is one area where the United States can be welcoming to foreign nationals, it is when they are fuelling the US economy by investing, purchasing or starting up businesses. This goes beyond bringing money to the US by buying a property or contributing through tourism: creating jobs for American nationals is a central focus of visas such as the E-2 Treaty Investor.

As a non-US national running a business there, you are directly creating employment and being held accountable for jobs for you to create and sustain. Demonstrating that you have the means and foresight to grow your business sufficiently to do this, will provide you with a firm foothold in applying for your E-2 visa.

Bolstering your application: a solid business plan

A projection of what your business is going to have achieved five years down the line, with the required level of E-2 detail, can be quite a challenge – and it means the difference between success and rejection. Along with a comprehensive business plan, supporting documentation is necessary to confirm the likely revenues of your prospective enterprise. If you are unable to provide independent sources to reinforce these financial projections, you will need to reconsider your plans for that business.

Although you do not have to be undertaking any current business activity, another component which can add credibility to your plan is demonstrating that you have run a business successfully in the past – particularly that of a similar nature to the US business being established.

Investment capital

Although there is no stated business investment capital for the purposes of the E-2 visa application, a good rule of thumb should be any amount over $100K. This is flexible however, and E-2 applications have been approved with as little as $40K in investment, though these rare cases are strengthened, or upheld entirely by a highly compelling and effective business plan.

Filing for extension with E-2 

Your enterprise may have flourished and fulfilled the targets which were put in place from the outset – for example, you may have employed three people, are now exceeding the turnover you expected, and you are on the brink of setting up offices elsewhere around the United States. The E-2 still will not provide you a route to “˜indefinite leave to remain’. In legal terms, it is pitched such that the E-2 visa is for growing a business, and that an investor must maintain an intention to depart the USA when their status expires or is terminated.
There is no extension limit for the E-2 visa, but it must be renewed every two years nonetheless, and successfully filing for extension will depend upon the continued success of the business alongside making visible steps towards employing US citizens.

If you are hungry to put your US business plans in motion but have open-ended long term plans, the E-2 visa may be a route to seriously consider. Those who seek to establish a business with a view to securing permanent residency, and even eventually citizenship, may find the E-2 visa advantageous too, provided that they are mindful of what is required and the relative risks.

About the Author: Immigration into America provide bespoke solutions for those planning their move to the US. We will organise everything from selecting which visa category is right for you and providing US tax planning, to introducing you to a US franchise which meets your requirements.