An E-2 visa is an ideal visa for a foreign national who wants to start their own business in the U.S. The key advantages of the E-2 Visa are the infinite renewal option, the fact that your family can come with you (and your spouse can work) & the relatively small investment amount that is required.
Click here to learn more about the E-2 visa requirements.
We’ve processed hundreds of E-2 visas over the years and our clients often ask: What do I need to do when it’s time to renew? This post summarizes some key considerations for E-2 visa holders as they prepare for their E-2 renewal.
- Hire U.S. Workers: One of the requirements of the E-2 visa is that the investor hire U.S. workers. Ideally, you should stick to the hiring plan included on the business plan that was submitted with your initial application but as long as you have hired some U.S. workers (e.g. 3 full-time workers) you can argue that you have met the requirement for a renewal. If hiring has not gone as planned and you did not hire any workers, you will have to include an explanation in your renewal application explaining why this happened and what you will do to remedy the situation. The success of this approach would depend on the facts and circumstances and also how long you had the visa for. For example, if your visa had only been issued for one year, you would have less explaining to do than if the visa was issued for 5 years. Sometimes situations arise wherein the investor has to let certain employees go or employees decide to leave. In this case, make sure that you adequately explain the situation and indicate how your future hiring plan supports your overall vision for the company.
- Provide Updated Financial Data: A 5-year business plan is one of the key documents that is included in the initial E-2 visa application. This is also one of the key documents that an immigration officer expects to see in an E-2 visa renewal application if the company has not hired U.S. workers. In addition to looking at the hiring plan to see what the plan is to hire U.S. workers in the future, the Government will also look at the following:
- Revenue Targets: Have you met your revenue targets? Most Consulates will want company tax returns submitted with a renewal application that show company performance over time. If tax returns are not available, you can provide other financial information (e.g. audited financial statements, bank statements, other financial data) to show company performance. Ideally, the immigration officer would like to see that you have met or surpassed your revenue targets but at least that the company continues to be viable and will be able to sustain U.S. workers. If the company has losses or the viability is in question, it will be important to provide an explanation as to why the targets have not been met and how the company plans to remedy this. For example, if there were any unforeseen but necessary expenditures that were made, this should be included in the explanation. It is also important to highlight that while the revenue is lower than anticipated, the company still made enough money to pay vendors and employees, and turn a small profit, if that were the case.
- Success of Marketing and Sales Plan: Was your marketing and sales plan effectively executed and how will your future plan improve business? The reviewing immigration officer would like to see that you followed your marketing and sales plan to success. Providing concrete documentation to show the success (e.g. customer reviews, ratings from Better Business Bureau, etc.) can help a renewal. On the other hand, if you have not followed your marketing and sales plan since opening the business, provide an explanation as to the reasons for the change (e.g. better return on investment with another marketing campaign, etc.) and your plan to turn things around.
- Address and Business Changes: When you apply for an E-2 visa renewal, your business should be similar to the one that you put forth in your initial application. If your business and the operations has substantively changed, you should also consult with an immigration attorney as you will have to notify immigration, which may involve filing a new application.
- Provide Updated Proof of a Real and Operating Enterprise: The immigration officer reviewing your application will likely want to see any updates on your business in terms of the Real and Operating requirement. They want to see a business that has progressed instead of a business that is stagnant. Some of the items to include in the application are: updated website and social media pages, copies of online reviews, additional licenses/permits/certifications, updated lease, business bank statements, company tax returns, W-2 forms, invoices and proofs of payment for additional expenditures, and others. Click here for our blog post regarding the Real and Operating requirement.
- Make Sure You Still Meet the E-2 Visa Requirements: Make sure that you remain eligible for the E-2 visa, such as making sure that the company remains at least 50% owned by a treaty national with the same nationality as the E-2 visa holder. For a complete list of E-2 visa requirements, click here.
- Want To Start A Small Business in the United States? An E-2 Visa May Be Perfect For You.
- The Three Types of E-2 Visas
- Do I have to Hire Full-Time Employees to get an E-2 Visa? Can I Hire Independent Contractors and get an E-2 Visa? Can I Hire Part-Time Employees and get an E-2 Visa? Can I Hire an Intern and Get an E-2 Visa? Do I have to Hire U.S. Workers to Get an E-2 Visa?
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