Famed for its entrepreneurial culture, the United States has long been a hot-bed of opportunity for start up businesses. With the right immigration solution – and a generous dose of ambition – anyone can succeed.
What is an E-2?
The E-2 Investor Visa is a great choice when starting a US business. It enables an individual and immediate family to reside in the States as long as the business is a going concern (the visa can be renewed every two years, indefinitely). The visa requires a “substantial” investment – which generally means a capital investment of around $100,000 – and is available to foreign nationals from a range of countries.
To apply, you need to submit a business plan showing financial forecasts and proving that your business can make a meaningful contribution to the US economy. If you want a compelling and successful application, you should really get professional help – which means a US immigration specialist.
Here are two real life examples where the E-2 visa has helped small businesses set up State-side.
Businessman Asif Khan moved to the US in 1993 – and hasn’t looked back
An installer of floors and blinds in Jaipur, India, Asif began making US plans after a family holiday: “we went on a three week vacation to Florida, fell in love with the place, and I knew then what I wanted to do.”
Asif found that the process for an E-2 application could be complex. He contacted a US immigration attorney who talked Asif through the risks: “We discussed the fact that if business got tough, my whole family might lose their right to stay – this was something we would always need to avoid.” Although the E-2 visa itself does not lead to permanent residency, holders can transfer to an alternative visa which supports longer term residency. Asif is discussing this with his attorney.
“My lawyer said that the US government isn’t interested in marginal investments” reports Asif. The capital amount must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. “I had $104,000 to invest, and he told me that – with a strong business plan – this should fly”.
Small businesses like Asif’s can provide real benefit to the local economy. Asif has ten full-time employees, providing a sound case for visa renewal.
Visas must usually be renewed every two years. “Renewals have been fairly straightforward”, says Asif. “Our first visa was granted in 1993 and took just three months”. Asif was also granted four years residency before renewal – however, processing times and lengths of residency granted do vary.
“Our twin daughters are ten and they are doing well in school” reports Asif “The business goes from strength to strength. My wife and I feel part of our local community and help organise neighbourhood events. We have no regrets and want stay in Florida for good.”
Belgian fashion designer Anabelle Bolender opened a vintage boutique in San Francisco
Annabelle lived in Paris, organising craft workshops and selling fashion accessories online. With a penchant for unique vintage clothing, she decided – after careful market research – that the vibrant artistic scene in San Francisco would be an ideal location for a US Business.
A different approach
Rather than starting from scratch, Anabelle looked at buying an existing US business – a popular approach to obtaining an E-2 visa. Her advice: “I wish I had sought more help with the search. Finding the right location was a key issue.”
Anabelle managed to find an independent clothes store to match her budget, but it took her six months. “I thought I could do it myself, but it was harder than I expected”. Buying an existing business or franchise is a sensible route: it saves you start-up stress, and eliminates several hurdles – like building a customer base. With the right guidance, this can ensure your enterprise hits the ground running.
The right lawyer
Anabelle’s business is now thriving, but her journey wasn’t problem-free. She says: “I have two successful stores – one I run myself and one I rent out – but I did make mistakes. Initially, I chose the wrong lawyer who couldn’t help me with my business plan – he just said ‘do it yourself’. Once I switched lawyers, my application went much more smoothly.”
If you are thinking of investing and setting up shop in the USA, IncPlan USA can provide you with everything you need: from immigration consultancy and legal advice to business incorporation and help with logistics and planning. If you would like to find out more, contact us today at [email protected]