Can you Operate an E-2 Business before the E-2 visa is issued? Can I Operate a business without a visa? Do I need the E-2 visa to operate the business?

By May 10, 2019October 2nd, 2020E-2 Visa, Immigration, Investor Visas

An E-2 visa is a great option for an entrepreneur who wants to start or purchase a business in the U.S.  You can find out more about the E-2 visa requirements by clicking here.

Before a visa is issued, there are a number of set up activities that must be performed and an applicant can come to the U.S. on either Visa Waiver (ESTA) or a B-1 visa to perform these activities. You can find out more about permitted activities under a B-1 Visa by clicking here.   In many cases the E-2 business may already exits (For example, the purchase of a business) or a start-up business may be operational while one is waiting for an E-2 interview at a Consulate.  Recently, we answered the following set of questions for one of our E-2 Visa clients.

What are the rules regarding operating the business while waiting for your E2 visa to be approved?  Can I operate the business while waiting for my E-2 visa to be approved? Are we permitted to work in the business until the E-2 visa has been approved?  Can we hire employees to run the business if we do not have the visa yet?  We have customers waiting to place orders, can I take the orders as I am not sure whether we are even allowed to operate at all until the E-2 visa has been approved?

First, you do not need an E-2 Visa (or any visa) to own a company that operates in the U.S.  and you can even work for this company if you are not on U.S. soil.  If you are in the U.S. on a valid visa (eg. B-1 Visa) you are still permitted to own the business and the business can be operational.  This means you can take profit and distributions from the business also. You can also hire employees and independent contractors.

While you can own an E-2 business and it can be operational with employees, you cannot work there while on U.S. soil.  Many of our client either hire contractors or employees to run the business while they are waiting for the E-2 visa approval, OR they can run the business while they are outside of the U.S. (to the extent that is possible). With an operational business you must always be careful while you are in the U.S. that you do not violate rules related to working without authorization.

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