An E-2 visa is a visa classification available to foreign nationals who wish to purchase or start their own business in the United States. In order to qualify for the E-2 visa, an applicant must invest a certain amount of money as well as ultimately hire US employees. The applicant must also demonstrate that the business is “real & operating,” meaning it has already started operations or is ready to start operations.
For start-ups, the ability to hire workers or demonstrate that it is real and operating may be a challenge. It is important that a start-up E-2 application contains a comprehensive business plan which illustrates the company’s hiring plan for US workers, the steps taken to prepare the business for operation, and a financial plan that shows how the company will be a profitable enterprise. Another form of evidence that is helpful to demonstrate that the E-2 company will hire US workers and be beneficial to the local US economy is a letter from the local Chamber of Commerce or other similar agency in the community where the E-2 company plans to open for business.
A well-written letter from a Chamber of Commerce can help bolster several key aspects of an applicant’s narrative. First, it demonstrates initiative from the applicant to reach out to the local community and learn about the community’s business needs and opportunities. Second, it provides corroborating evidence regarding that region’s economy. Lastly, it reiterates the company’s plans to hire US workers and describes how the company’s contributions would benefit the local economy.
If you are considering starting a business in the US, or purchasing an active business, a local chamber of commerce may serve as a great resource for understanding the local economy and getting a better sense of the business opportunities in the region. Chambers of Commerce frequently offer business support, services, membership discounts and access to networking events for a small membership fee, all of which may be quite useful for a new entrepreneur. When approaching a Chamber of Commerce for a letter of support to include in your E-2 application, you should already have an idea of the information you want that letter to convey and ideally even a business plan You should join the Chamber of Commerce as a member prior to making this request and if you are visiting the area it is also a good idea to schedule an in-person meeting to discuss your business. Here are a few key aspects of a well-written letter of support:
- Know your business: You should know what your business is, how many employees you intend to hire, their salary and when you intend to hire them so that this may be included in the letter. You should have a brief, detailed description of your business ready for the Chamber of Commerce officer providing the letter.
- Description of Local Community: The letter should contain a description of the local community and provide some economic data to support this description. This will help substantiate that the E-2 enterprise will be a successful and profitable enterprise.
- Description of How Your Company will Benefit Local Community: The letter should discuss how your business will provide a benefit to the local community by offering well-paying jobs in the area or by offering a particular service that the community needs.
In almost every case when our E-2 visa applicants first approach a local chamber of commerce, the Chamber is reluctant to write anything. Often though with persistence and charm our applicants have secured a letter that helped their E-2 visa applications.
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