Get Your E-2 Visa Business Plan Right
If you’re planning to move to the US to start a business, it’s likely you’re looking at the E-2 visa. As well as meeting the many eligibility requirements of the E2 visa, you will be required as part of your application to submit an E2 visa business plan.
A poorly formatted business plan can result in delayed processing, if more information is requested by the adjudicator, or even a refused application if the adjudicator concludes from the business plan that the visa requirements are not met. As such, the business plan is a critical document in establishing eligibility for the E2 visa.
What is the E2 visa business plan?
The E2 visa business plan is a document produced specifically to support your application for an E2 Treaty Investor visa for the USA. The E2 visa carries many requirements in relation to the E2 visa applicant and the E2 company, and the business plan should be used to evidence compliance with the visa criteria.
4- 6 weeks after submitting your application and business plan to the US Embassy, you should expect to be invited to attend an interview. During the E2 visa interview, you will be questioned on the information you have provided about yourself and the business. The business plan will be scrutinized to ascertain the degree of economic benefit your business would bring to the US market. You’ll need to be comfortable being challenged on the content of the business plan, and explaining how you will get the business to an operational stage for the point you would arrive in the US.
What should the E2 visa business plan include?
Put simply, the business plan should set out your company goals and projections, it should detail how your E-2 investment is going to be utilized and it should demonstrate that the level of investment is sufficient to make the business operational and to allow you to meet your growth projections. You will also need to outline the projected economic benefits the company will contribute in the US.
The contents of the business plan will largely depend on the nature of your business, the level of investment being made and the strategies you intend to adopt to make the business viable. Taking professional advice will help to ensure you are providing the adjudicator with the relevant information.
While there isn’t a single winning formula or a prescribed format for the E-2 business case, we know from our years of experience in managing E2 visa applications the key information that can help the visa adjudicator understand how your plans and projections meet the visa requirements. A successful E2 visa business plan would typically cover information about:
- The company – whether it is an established or new business, what its activities will be, its projected economic benefits and the strategies to develop the business
- The investment – proving it is both ‘substantial’ and with legitimate source of funds
- The applicant – evidencing your suitability to direct and develop the business
1. About the E2 company
The plan will need to state whether the E2 company is an established enterprise or a new venture. In either case, you will need prove it is bona fide and legitimate. The business must be an active, profit-making, entrepreneurial undertaking, such as producing goods or delivering services. For example, buying land or property in the US may not in itself qualify for the E2 visa if being used for passive income; there would typically need to be some property management activity requiring you to manage operations on a day-to-day basis,
Importantly, you will also need to provide indication of the number of jobs you intend to create within your company for US resident workers, and any other relevant economic benefits you would bring to the US market.
Consider including the following sections within the business plan:
The plan should provide financial projections and elaborate on how the business will achieve sufficient success and profitability to support you (the investor), your dependents and employees, and create new jobs within the duration of the E-2 visa (maximum 5 years).
It’s important to be realistic. If your application is successful, look ahead to the renewal stage (up to 5 years). When you apply to renew, you will be required to present documentation and figures that show business performance for the duration of the visa, with the expectation that you will have achieved these projections.
In the business plan, you will also need to show you have control and possession of your investment funds. This requires documentary evidence of the source of funds, with a clear paper trail, for example, sale of property or assets, savings, employment income.
With no threshold or arbitrary minimum amount, the size of your investment must be considered ‘substantial’ in proportion to the total cost of the business project. We explain in more detail here about the E-2 investment amount, but put simply – it is a relative test with no defined minimum threshold. It will be for you to make your case and explain why your investment amount qualifies as ‘substantial’ relative to your enterprise and its specific needs.
There must also be an at-risk element to the investment, which again you will need to detail within the plan of investments to date in the business (lease, set up costs etc) and to prove that the business will be operational from day 1 of you arriving in the US.
The Embassy will want to understand how your business will actually function in the US.
There are a multitude of corporate structures permissible for securing the E-2 visa. You will need to decide which you will operate under.
The management specifics of the business will also require detail. The E-2 visa holder is authorized on the basis of directing and developing the business – what does this mean in practical terms given your corporate structure and personnel strategy?
You will also be required to evidence that at least 50 percent of the business is owned by you, being a citizen of a treaty country.
The management structure should allow you as the E-2 visa holder to develop and direct the company, with other individuals performing the skilled or unskilled labor demands of the business.
You must be able to demonstrate that you will create jobs within your company for resident workers. How many US jobs will result from your enterprise, what roles will they be and when do you expect they will be created?
Interestingly, the E-2 visa also allows the business to petition for other foreign employees with the same nationality as the treaty employer. By leveraging this advantage the enterprise could petition for executives, supervisors, or other essential employees with special qualifications.
How will you approach marketing within the US? Document your plans including budget and personnel requirements for marketing activity.
Do you have contacts to tap into, or meetings lined up? Perhaps you already have contracts in place, or signed letters of intent? Clearly, the more solid these lines of activity, the better for your case.
2. About the E2 investment
You have to be clear on the level of investment made in the E2 company and why this level is appropriate and compliant with the visa conditions of being “substantial” and “not marginal”.
The investment sum must be shown to be reserved and available for use by the E2 company, and the source of funds will also need to be given to prove it has been lawfully obtained.
3. About the E2 applicant
You will need to show that your role within the business is to direct and develop, whether as an established or existing enterprise, and that you own at least 50% of the company. The investment sum must be in your possession and have been legitimately obtained. You must also be able to show that the investment carries financial risk personally for you.
You will need to prove your intention to live in the US while you carry out these activities and to leave the US when your visa expires (although you may apply to extend the visa).
A further requirement is that the nature of the business is, in some logical sense, related, connected or relevant to the professional experience, skills or qualifications of the E-2 applicant, ie that you have the ability to successfully direct the company.
The Embassy will be seeking assurance of your credibility and capability, as well as the viability of the enterprise, and are likely to question at interview where there is a perceived lack of synergy between your capabilities and the company’s line of work.
Need assistance with your E-2 visa business plan?
The business plan is a challenging part of the E-2 visa application process, but critical to get right. Remember, planning for growth will be central to your E2 visa business plan. Typically, the Embassy is looking for steady enterprises achieving growth, and you need to be able to demonstrate how your business meet this. There’s also the risk of including too much information – aim for thorough but succinct!
You will also need to ensure you follow any instructions from the E visa unit that is processing your application, as many have specific formatting requirements for business plans. We can advise on such requirements.
NNU Immigration are US attorneys with specialist expertise in the E-2 visa, helping entrepreneurs, business owners and investors realise their ambitions for growth in the US.
If you have a question about an E-2 visa application, including the E-2 visa business plan, contact NNU Immigration and speak with one of our attorneys.
E2 visa business plan FAQs
How much investment is needed for E2 business visa?
There is no set threshold or investment amount for the E2 business visa, however, the requirements are that the investment is “substantial”, which will be assesed taking into account the nature of the business activity, its industry and other factors deemed relevant.
What is an E2 compliant business plan?
The E2 business plan should show how your E-2 investment is going to be utilized, with insight into areas such as the business’ financial, personnel and marketing strategies.
Can I work for another company on an E2 visa?
E2 visa holders are only permitted to work for the E2 company.
What are the disadvantages of E2 visa?
The main disadvantage of the E2 visa is that it does not lead to a Green Card or permanent settlement in the US, although there are no restrictions on the number of times the visa can be extended, provided the visa holder remains eligible.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.