Starting a New Business for E2 Visa Qualification
An investor can also obtain an E-2 visa through the creation of a new business, but the process is more complex. If the investor is buying an existing business, a purchase contract must be signed and the purchase price funds are placed in an escrow account. The funds may be fully refundable in the event that the investor fails to obtain a visa.
In the case of a start-up business, an investor must spend all the funds necessary to start the business, and provide proof of payment and the source of funds to pay for each expenditure, such as receipts, etc. Depending on the type of business, an investor may need to demonstrate a considerable amount has been invested - whatever is necessary to start that type of business.
Proving that funds are "irrevocably committed" is crucial. For example, if an investor is establishing a restaurant it would need to be demonstrated that a business premises has already been leased, furniture and kitchen equipment necessary has been purchased, and any refurbishment is finished. If an investor is starting a service business, on the other hand, the investment to develop the business to the point of being operational may be quite low, as little as $30,000-$40,000. In that case it is advisable to purchase ALL items that might possibly be needed to maximise chances of visa approval. An appropriate amount of working capital will also have to be documented.
In addition to demonstrating that the investment has already been made, an investor will also have to put forward a convincing case that the business will be profitable. A comprehensive business plan is necessary along with supporting documentation to independently confirm the likely revenues of the prospective business. If an investor is unable to provide independent sources to back up the financial projections for the business, it would be advisable to reconsider the plan for that business.
Another element that can add credibility to a business plan is demonstrating that the investor has run a business successfully in the past, particularly if it is of a similar nature to the U.S. business being established.
An E-2 investor must demonstrate the ability to develop and direct the business through previous business experience and/or education. An investor who has not previously run a business or does not have a significant amount of professional work experience may find it difficult to obtain an E-2 visa for a start-up.
The exception to this rule is a franchise. It is generally recognised that good franchise companies offer considerable support and assistance to franchisees. Most well known franchises have a good track record of success, which can be documented. A signed franchise agreement will be required, as well as proof of having paid the franchise fee, leased business premises, and purchased the necessary equipment for the business to start trading.