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.
The E-2 visa allows an individual to set up, develop and direct a business in the US.
As well as meeting the many eligibility requirements, you will be required as part of your E-2 visa application to submit a business plan.
You’re looking to support your application within the business plan by detailing how your E-2 investment is going to be utilized and demonstrating that the level of investment is sufficient to make the business operational and to allow you to meet your growth projections.
4- 6 weeks after submitting your application and business plan to the US Embassy, you should expect to be invited to attend an interview.
At the 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.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single winning formula or prescribed format for the E-2 business case, but here are some brief pointers on areas to consider when preparing your E-2 visa business plan.
E-2 Visa Business Plan: Financial strategy
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.
E-2 Visa Business Plan: Operational strategy
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.
E-2 Visa Business Plan: Personnel strategy
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.
E-2 Visa Business Plan: Marketing strategy
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.
E-2 Visa Business Plan: Your skills & experience
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.
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.
NNU Immigration can advise on all aspects of the E-2 visa
Remember, planning for growth will be central to your document. Typically, the Embassy is looking for steady enterprise achieving growth, and you need to be able to demonstrate how your business fits the bill.
There’s also the risk of including too much information – aim for thorough but succinct!
It’s a challenging part of the E-2 visa application process, but critical to get right.
NNU Immigration are London-based 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.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.
Last updated: 23 December 2019