Planning a USA Visa Application
If an individual wishes to invest in a business in America and obtain a visa to work in the U.S. to develop and direct that business, the following should be considered:
1. Assess the funds available to use towards the investment.
2. Consider what type of business in which to make an investment. Individuals who choose a business they enjoy will be most successful as they may be operating it for many years! It does not have to be a similar business field to the one the individual has worked in before, nor is it required that the applicant have run a business previously.
3. Decide whether to start a new business or buy an existing one. Buying an existing business is easier for most people in terms of documenting the investment.
4. Decide where to live in the U.S. American immigration law is under U.S. federal law which means the E-2 visa requirements are the same for every state, but prices vary considerably in different cities and states. Prospective visa applicants should make preliminary visits to determine whether a particular location is ideal for the individual’s requirements.
5. Individuals should assess their visa options, and decide which visa best applies to their particular situation. It may be helpful to speak to a lawyer who specialises in American immigration law at this point. The visa category may affect the choice of business as the requirements vary according to category. For many, the E-2 visa represents the best and often only option. In addition, certain arrests or convictions may make an individual inadmissible to the U.S. In the situation where any of the potential visa applicants has any arrests or convictions it is advisable to contact an immigration lawyer as early as possible to assess your eligibility.
6. If the individual opts to purchase an existing business, it is recommended to identify a reliable business broker in the state where the business will operate.
7. An investor should plan a trip to the U.S. to identify possible locations where to live, and look at businesses in which to invest. It is not advisable to sell up in the UK and move to the U.S. until the visas are issued. British nationals without prior arrests or U.S. immigration violations may travel to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program to look at businesses, sign contracts, open business bank accounts, and sign leases, for example, but an individual must not run the business until they possess the requisite visa to work in the U.S.
8. Once the individual locates a business to purchase, it is prudent to have the various legal documents (e.g. purchase contract, lease) reviewed by a lawyer who is familiar with the law in the state where the business is located, and to arrange for a qualified certified public accountant (CPA) to review the financial records of the business.
9. Before the application for an E-2 visa is submitted to the U.S. Embassy, the business purchase contract must be signed and the investment funds must be irrevocably committed to the enterprise. It is recommended that the contract includes a clause stating that the completion of the purchase is conditioned upon the investor obtaining an E-2 visa. It is not advisable to complete the purchase until the visas are issued. If the investor is developing a new business it must be shown that all necessary expenditures have been made.
10. Now that the business has been identified, the visa application process begins. The visa applicant will need to obtain documentation from a variety of sources for the application, including proof of the source of the individual’s personal funds being invested and that the investment funds have been transferred to the U.S. (normally the full cash amount for the purchase) into a special U.S. "escrow" account.
It currently takes approximately three to four months for the adjudication of the E-2 application at the American Embassy in London, or longer if the Embassy raises any queries or requests additional documentation. After the London Embassy has reviewed the E-2 registration application, investors and their accompanying family members will be scheduled to appear for an interview at the Embassy based on the Embassy’s available appointments. The investor’s company’s E-2 registration and E-2 visa will be assessed at the interview and the applicants will be informed at that time whether the application is approved.