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I want to sell my E-2 business and stay in the U.S. What are my options?

By October 11, 2022E-2 Visa, Immigration
A group of business owners having a discussion

The E-2 visa allows foreign nationals to run a company in U.S. The applicant must be a national of a treaty country and must invest a substantial amount to start the business operations or purchase an existing business. The applicant must also show that the business is real and operating and not marginal, meaning it will have the ability to hire U.S. employees. Additionally, the investor must own at least 50% of the company.

Some E-2 investors set up their business planning to build up the operation and sell the business within a few years. Once the E-2 business is sold, the investor’s visa is no longer valid, even if there is time left on the visa stamp. Below are some options for E-2 investors who want to remain in the U.S. after their business is sold:

Apply for a new E-2 visa with another business

  • If you are interested in starting another business in the U.S., you can make a new investment and apply for a new E-2 visa. It is important to note that once your first business is sold you are not able to remain in the U.S. on your current E-2 visa, so you should plan to accordingly to give yourself enough time to get the new E-2 visa stamp.

O1A visa

  • If you have extraordinary ability in your industry you may be able to switch to an O1A visa. You need a U.S. employer or agent to sponsor you for the O1A. We sometimes see this scenario where the investor sells the company and wants to stay on working for the company in some capacity in their area of extraordinary ability.

H-1B visa

  • If you have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or the equivalent and a job offer for a specialty occupation from a U.S. employer, the H-1B may be an option. However, the H-1B visa requires significant advance planning as there is a lottery each year in March for the 85,000 available spots (20,000 of which are reserved for people with U.S. Master’s degrees) and even if selected, the earliest start date is October 1 of that year. One thing to remember is that if you were previously selected in the H1B lottery and did not use up the full 6 years of time you may be eligible to use the remaining time without going through the lottery again.

TN visa

  • If you are a Canadian or Mexican national, you may want to consider the TN visa. You would need to be a member of one of the professions on the TN list and have a job offer from a U.S. employer to work in that profession in the U.S. For most professions, a degree is required.

F-1 visa

  • If you are interested in taking a break from work and going to college in the U.S. you could plan to switch to an F-1 student visa. You would need to apply and get into the college first and be issued an I-20 from the school before you could obtain this visa.

EB-5

  • If you sold your business for a significant amount and would like to stay in the U.S. permanently you could also consider applying for a green card through the EB-5 immigrant investor program. Current minimum investment requirements are $800,000 for projects in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) and rural areas, and $1,050,000 for all other projects. Under a change in legislation that happened in March 2022, EB-5 investors may now concurrently file the I-526 form with an I-485 application to adjust status. This would give you the ability to stay in the U.S. and eventually to work and travel, once the work authorization and advance parole (travel) applications are approved.

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