An E-2 visa is a good option for individuals who want to come to the U.S. to run a business. It is an entrepreneur investor visa and can usually be obtained if the investor can invest over $100,000 and will create jobs for U.S. workers. A full set of the E-2 visa requirements can be found here.
When deciding whether to apply for an E-2 visa, many of our clients have asked: Should I buy an E-2 business or start one? We have summarized some considerations below.
Buying a Business for an E-2 Visa
Buying a business is an excellent option for an E-2 visa if the business is profitable and has employees. Generally speaking, 3 full-time employees, (or equivalent – eg. 6 part time working 20 hours a week) are sufficient in terms of employee numbers. There is no requirement for the business to grow further. In terms of profitability, the government is not looking for a specific number but rather an indication that the company is viable and can continue to generate profits and sustain the employees. The employee level should be independent of any family members or the E-2 investor.
We have processed E-2 visa business purchases for as low as $60,000 and the key thing to note with a business purchase is the number of employees and viability. If you buy a business that has been operational for 2 years and has been profitable, you can submit tax returns to the Consulate instead of a business plan. You can see more considerations when buying an E-2 business by clicking here. You can find another relevant article here.
Starting a Franchise for an E-2 Visa
U.S. Consulates love franchises for E-2 visas. This is primarily because they require a sizeable objective investment in terms of the franchise fee (usually greater than $50K), the businesses at times have name brand recognition (eg. Dunkin Donuts), and the franchise provides training and support. Scott Legal, P.C. has experience with numerous E-2 visas for franchises including the following types of businesses: Yoga Studio, Restaurants, Cleaning, Tax, Auto Repair, Fast Food and more.
You can find out more about franchise and E-2 visas by clicking here.
Starting an E-2 Business
While buying a business and starting a franchise are excellent E-2 visa options, the overwhelming majority of our clients start their own businesses. This often involves the creation of a new entity, opening a bank account, buying inventory, leasing office space, buying equipment, developing a website, obtaining a tax ID, hiring employees, marketing the company and more. Investments for E-2 visa start-ups are usually over the $100,000 mark with at least $50,000 of that spent. You can find out more about E-2 Visa investment amount by clicking here. You will also need a business plan if you start an new business for an E-2 visa. You can find out more about E-2 visa business plans by clicking here. Finally, to show that you will ultimately be able to hire U.S. workers, you should obtain letters of intent or contracts showing your prospects. You can find out more about E-2 visa letters of intent by clicking here.
All three options are possible and the decision of which is best really depends on the facts and circumstances and a trained E-2 immigration attorney can help you decide on what is best for you.
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