An E-2 visa is a great option if you want to start a business in the U.S., you have invested a substantial amount of money in the U.S. or you are in the processing of investing the money, and you plan to hire U.S. workers. Please see the E-2 requirements when you click here.
We sometimes get asked the following question: Can I operate 2 different businesses on an E-2 visa? Do I have to apply for 2 E-2 visas if I want to do this?
You want to run a restaurant in the U.S. but your previous background is in software consulting and you also want to do some consulting job on the side. You are wondering whether this will be possible and you are wondering if you can do this on one E-2 visa or you will need 2 different E-2 visas in your passport.
There are basically 2 ways how this can be done:
- You can set up one business entity (e.g. a limited liability company), and you could then do both activities (operating a restaurant and software consulting) under this one entity
In this case, you could set up ABC LLC and operate the two businesses (restaurant and consulting) under ABC LLC. Both businesses should be described in detail in your business plan and throughout your E-2 application so it’s clear to the officer reviewing your application that you are planning to operate 2 different businesses under one business entity. If the fact that you want to operate 2 different businesses is not disclosed in the original E-2 petition and you still do it while in the U.S., you may run into issues when renewing your E-2 visa. For example, if you only indicate in your business plan that you want to operate a restaurant but you then do some consulting work (not related to the restaurant business, but for example software consulting), the officer could conclude that the software consulting was not allowed as you obtained an E-2 visa for your restaurant business.
- You could set up 2 different business entities (e.g. 2 different limited liability companies) and operate the 2 businesses under 2 different business entities.
In this scenario, each business entity would have to independently qualify for the E-2 visa, meaning that you would have to meet all the E-2 criteria for each entity:
- You would have to own more than 50% in each entity;
- You would have to show that you invested substantial amount of money in each entity and the money is “at risk” (so you would have to make basically 2 E-2 investments);
- You would have to show legitimate possession and control of the invested funds for each entity;
- You would have to show that you will be developing and directing each entity;
- You would have to show that the business is not marginal, meaning that each business will hire U.S. employees and will provide means of living for more people than just your family (so each entity would have to have U.S. employees);
- You would have to show that each business is real and operating.
In scenario number 2, you will have to submit 2 different E-2 applications to USCIS or to the Consulate. Please note that you would not be issued 2 E-2 visas in your passport, but you would be issued one E-2 visa that would have the names of both of the companies on it.
Please click here to find out more about the E-2 requirements.
Please click here to find out whether you can hire employees before your E-2 visa application is approved.
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