One of the key requirements for an E-2 visa is that the applicant’s investment in the business must be “substantial” (for a summary of the E-2 visa and its requirements, please visit our E-2 Visa Page here). Typically, this means that the applicant will have spent tens of thousands of dollars on the business before she even submits her application.
But the work does not end there. Even after committing a substantial amount of money to a business, an application may still be rejected if the application fails to effectively show the government how that money was spent, and to provide supporting evidence.
So what is the best way to show the government how much money has been invested in the business?
When applying for an E-2 visa, whether at a consulate or through USCIS, the government will expect to see proof of how much money the applicant has invested in the company. One important thing to keep in mind is that your application is going to be read by a very busy person. Therefore, the clearer you can present the information, the better. Imagine that you are explaining to a 12-year-old how much money you have spent on the business, and how you have spent it – while the reviewing officer will certainly be older and better trained than our hypothetical 12-year-old, the same clarity and simplicity that would aid a 12-year-old will also be appreciated by the officer.
To clearly and concisely tell the government officer how much money you spent on the business, and how you spent that money, we recommend a well-crafted investment schedule. For this task, we recommend Excel, but any software that allows creating tables can be used.
The Summary Page
So how would you explain to that 12-year-old what you’ve spent on your business? You might start by stating the total amount – say it’s $150,000. But then you would probably break that amount down into the main categories of expenses. To make it simple, let’s say that rent, computers, furniture, business fees, and marketing have each cost you $20,000 (for a total of $100,000), and that, additionally, you have $50,000 in a business bank account.
By laying out the total amount invested and the handful of main categories of expenses, you have provided the material for the first page of your investment schedule, the Summary Page. Your Summary Page might look something like this:
|Expense Category||Amount in USD|
|TOTAL E-2 INVESTMENT||$150,000.00|
Now that I have created the Summary Page, what’s next?
After the Summary Page, get into the details. At least one item – and usually more – makes up each of the main categories you listed on the Summary Page. For each main category, we recommend creating a separate spreadsheet that lists out the individual expenses that comprise it.
For example, the rent category is probably made up of several months’ rent. The “Rent Detail” spreadsheet might look like this:
|Date||Item/Invoice Description||Amount in USD||Reference for Invoice||Reference for Proof of Payment|
|1/1/2020||Rent – January||$5,000.00||Page 10||Page 11|
|2/1/2020||Rent – February||$5,000.00||Page 12||Page 13|
|3/1/2020||Rent – March||$5,000.00||Page 14||Page 15|
|4/1/2020||Rent – April||$5,000.00||Page 16||Page 17|
Of course, the total at the bottom of the spreadsheet should match the amount you’ve listed for the rent category on the Summary Page. As you can see, $20,000 is the total in our Rent Detail spreadsheet, and is also the total for the rent category on the Summary Page.
The “Reference” Columns and Proving Your Expenses
You might have noticed the two right-most columns on the Rent Detail spreadsheet, above, that say “Reference for Invoice” and “Reference for Proof of Payment.” These columns, and the documents they refer to, are absolutely critical. In short, they are how you prove to the government officer that you actually spent the money you say you did.
Specifically, for each item – say January rent, February rent, etc. – you will want to provide documentation showing you were charged for the item, and that you actually paid for it. Most often, you would provide a scan of the invoice or receipt to show that you were charged for an item – an invoice from a landlord, for example. But in addition, you must also show that you actually paid for the item. You can do this by, for example, providing a scan of your bank statement showing the withdrawal from your account to pay for the landlord’s invoice.
The spreadsheet above refers to page numbers. It is often easiest for the government officer to turn to a specific page, where she will see the scanned invoice or proof of payment. So, continuing with our example, on page 10 of the investment schedule the officer would find the invoice for January’s rent, which cost $5,000. On page 11, she would find the bank statement showing a withdrawal of $5,000 from the bank account.
How Do I Show Working Capital?
For working capital, you can provide your most recent bank statement, showing that the account is in the business’s name and the total funds available. Keep in mind that working capital is not a substitute for actual business expenditures – to qualify for an E-2 visa, you must actually commit money to the business rather than simply move money into a business account. However, working capital can be referenced in conjunction with actual business expenses in order to give the government officer a holistic picture of the business’s financial status. See here for more information.
The investment schedule is a key piece of the E-2 visa application, and works in conjunction with additional evidence provided in the application showing that your business satisfies the E-2 requirements. In the end, your investment schedule – with its Summary Page, Detail Pages for each category of expenses, and supporting documents showing receipts and proof of payment – can be anywhere from a few pages to hundreds of pages. The important thing, though, is that by following the tips above, you give the government documentation that is easy to navigate and supported by documented evidence.
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