Have you ever dreamed about owning your own business in the United States and chasing the American dream? Do you have money ready to invest in this new venture to improve your family’s future? If this sounds familiar, you may have considered applying for an E2 investment visa.
The E2 visa process can be long and confusing, and it’s a good idea to know what you’re facing going on. Read on to learn more about this visa and the process you’ll go through to get one.
What Is an E2 Visa?
Before we dive into the E2 investment visa process, let’s talk some about what they are. An E2 visa is a temporary visa designed to help investors launch businesses in the United States. These visas are tied to the success of your business, so if your business fails, your visa will be revoked.
In particular, an E2 visa is designed for investors who have a “substantial amount of capital” to invest in their new venture. There is no stated minimum investment requirement for you to get an E2 visa approved. Rather, the government wants to see that you have what it takes to help your business succeed.
There are a few basic requirements you must meet if you want to get approved for an E2 visa. First and foremost, you must come from a country that maintains a treaty of trade and navigation with the United States. You can find a list of these countries on the U.S. Department of State’s website.
Beyond the country of origin requirement, you must have invested or be in the process of investing a “substantial amount of capital” in your business. In general, you should expect to put up at least $100,000 at the beginning of this process. And finally, you must be coming to the United States with the sole purpose of starting a business you have a controlling share in.
Talk to an Immigration Lawyer
The first thing you’ll need to do as part of your E2 application process is to talk to an immigration lawyer. The E2 visa application process can be long and confusing, and you need someone to guide you through it. An immigration lawyer can help you ensure that you have all the right paperwork filled out appropriately and submitted on time.
Some immigration lawyers offer package deals for E2 visa applications. These will cover all the advice and assistance you need during the application process, including incorporating your business, for one flat fee. Other attorneys charge by the hour, though you may want to go for this option only if you expect your application process to be very straightforward.
Gather Your Investment
Once you’ve talked to your immigration lawyer, your next step will be to get your investment funds together. Of course, the most straightforward way to do this is if you have access to this money in liquid assets. But even if you don’t have this cash, you still have other options to raise this money.
You can choose to apply for a business loan to get the investment funds you need. You can look into raising this money through gifts or donations from friends and family or through a crowdfunding site. You can even partner with another investor who can help contribute some of these funds, though it is important to note you must own at least 50 percent of the business
Write a Business Plan
With your funds in place, you’ll need to turn your attention to writing a business plan. For one thing, your business plan will be an important guide as you work to make your company successful. But a business plan will also be a critical part of your E2 visa application.
It’s a good idea to work with a consultant when you’re writing a business plan for your E2 investment visa business. These professionals know what does and doesn’t work for new businesses just trying to get off the ground. They can also help you make sure your business plan includes everything it needs to for your E2 visa application.
Transfer Your Investment Funds
Now that you have your business plan and your funds together, it will be time to start investing your money. The first thing you’ll need to do is to transfer your investment funds into a business account. This will be your first step in showing the government that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is.
Open a bank account for your business, preferably with a bank that has branches in the United States. Transfer your investment funds, at least $100,000, into that account. Make sure you keep meticulous records of your bank transactions to show the government when you submit your E2 visa application.
Launch Your Business
Once your funds are in the bank, you’ll be ready to start your business! While you may not be able to start operating while you’re living outside the United States, you do need to start spending your investment money on your business. The U.S. government requires that your investment funds be “at risk,” meaning they have been irrevocably spent on expenses for your business.
If you plan to have a physical location for your business, purchase or set up a lease agreement for that location. If you need special equipment or machinery, go ahead and make those purchases. You can even begin purchasing products, materials, or merchandise for your business.
Check Your Consulate’s Website
Your funds are transferred, your business is off and running, and now you’re finally ready to start your E2 visa application. The first thing you’re going to need to do is to check your consulate’s website. Every consulate has different instructions for how you must submit your application, and you want to make sure you follow yours to the letter.
Find out whether you can email in your E2 visa application or if you have to mail it in. Look into whether there are page limits for your application or you can take all the space you need to document your investment. It may be helpful to call or visit your consulate or to talk to your immigration lawyer to make sure you’re following all the directions correctly.
Gather Your Paperwork
Once you’re clear on the directions to submit your application, it will finally be time to start gathering your paperwork. There are a number of documents you’ll need to provide as part of your E2 visa application. Those include:
- DS-160 application form
- DS-156E Form
- Passport valid for at least six months after your stay in the U.S. is set to begin
- Passport-style photo
- Cover letter summarizing the visa requirements and how you fulfill them
- Full table of contents of your application
- If your family will be coming with you, civil documents showing your connection to them (birth certificate, marriage license, etc.)
- Evidence of your nationality
- Your curriculum vitae
- Business ownership documents
- Proof of your business’s actual or projected value
- Proof that you have your investment money
- Proof that you’ve invested your money in your business
- Proof that your business is a real and operating commercial enterprise
- Proof that your business is not marginal
- Proof that you have a managing share in the company
Submit Your Application
Gathering your paperwork will take some time, and you’ll need to work with your immigration attorney to make sure you have everything you need and that it’s all filled out properly. You’ll likely need to adjust your forms or provide some additional evidence that you meet the visa requirements. Spend some time finalizing these forms and then reviewing your application to make sure everything is in order.
Once you’re certain your application meets U.S. government requirements, you’ll be ready to submit. After you send in your application, you can expect to wait about three to five months before you hear from the U.S. Consulate. You can also opt to pay an additional $2,500 premium processing fee that will guarantee you a response within fifteen days.
Prepare for Your Interview
While you’re waiting for a response to your application, you don’t have to be sitting idle. Once the government reviews your application, they’ll decide whether to grant you an interview or not. You can spend your waiting period preparing for this interview, which may be scheduled three weeks to three months after you receive a response, depending on how busy your consulate is.
Gather copies of all your documentation, including your business plan, to take with you on the day of your interview. Work with your immigration attorney to review what questions you’ll likely be asked. And arrange travel to your consulate if necessary once you get your interview date.
Attend Your Interview
On the morning of your interview, make sure you dress nicely and plan to arrive at the consulate at least twenty minutes early. Bring copies of all your documentation with you in case the interviewer wants to review them. You may also want to jot down any questions you may have for the interviewer so you can remember them when you’re in the interview room.
The interview process will be fairly short; most last only ten to twenty minutes. The interviewer will review your application, business plan, and documentation and will ask you a few questions. At the end of the interview, they’ll let you know whether your visa has been approved or not.
Get Your Visa
Although you should receive an answer about your visa application the day of your interview, you won’t actually receive your visa that day. It should take about a week after your interview date for your visa to show up. This will be a page you add to your passport showing that you have free access to enter and leave the United States.
It’s best to wait until you have your visa in hand to book travel to the United States. This will help you to avoid any unexpected delays that might cost you a plane ticket. But once you have your visa in hand, you’ll be ready to start preparing for your move to the United States!
Renew Your Visa
Unfortunately, even after your visa gets approved, you aren’t done with the application process. Although E2 visas are technically valid for five years, you’ll need to renew your visa every two years. Failing to renew your visa on time will leave you an illegal immigrant in the United States and could result in your deportation.
It’s best to start your visa renewal process about a year before it’s set to expire to give yourself plenty of processing time. The renewal process will look much the same as the initial application process, albeit with less documentation required. You may want to talk to your immigration lawyer about this process, too, to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
Get Your E2 Investment Visa
An E2 investment visa can be a great way to make your American dream a reality. However, the process is long and complex, and it’s a good idea to seek out help from immigration lawyers and business consultants. Make sure all your paperwork is correct before you submit your application, and be sure to follow your specific consulate’s submission guidelines to ensure the smoothest possible process.
If you’d like to learn more about how to get your E2 investment visa, check out the rest of our site at Advanced Franchising Solutions. We’re here to help you own a business instead of your job owning you. Get a free franchise education today and start discovering an analytical approach to business that can save you years of mistakes and thousands of dollars.