What if you could start a thriving business right here in the United States?
If you’re an entrepreneur who lives outside of America, it’s possible for you to move to the country and start a business. To do so, you’ll need to successfully complete an E2 Visa.
Unfortunately, the paperwork is extensive and complicated. You are going to need an immigration lawyer to help you take care of everything. And this leads to a natural question: how much will the immigration lawyer fees be?
To help answer that question, we put together this definitive guide. Keep reading to discover all the answers you’ve been waiting for!
What Is An E2 Visa?
Our guide is designed to help you figure out how much an immigration lawyer will cost for your E2 visa. First, though, we need to explain more of what an E2 visa actually is.
An E2 visa is a special kind of visa that helps you live and work in the United States so long as you start a business here. The business can be any size (more on this later), but you must own at least half of it.
When you apply for an E2 visa, or after it has been granted, your spouse and children under 18 can apply for an E2 visa as well. Unlike other vias, the E2 can be renewed indefinitely as long as your business remains operational. This provides additional stability to help raise your family in the United States.
Once their visas are approved, your spouse can find a job, work at your business, or even start your own business. And your children can attend your choice of public or private schools.
Unfortunately, your extended family (such as parents or siblings) cannot directly come with you once your E2 visa is approved. But because you only need to have a 50% stake in the business that you create, it is possible for a parent or sibling to take control of the other 50%, allowing their direct family to receive E2 visa benefits.
Why Do I Need An Immigration Lawyer?
Now you know more about what the E2 visa is and how it works. And the rest of our guide is going to explore the costs of your immigration lawyer as well as other fees related to the E2. But this leads to a pretty natural question: why do you actually need an immigration lawyer for this?
The basic answer is that the paperwork is very lengthy and very complex. While there are ways to speed things up, the average processing time for an E2 visa is six months (though this can sometimes creep as high as nine months). So if you were to make any major errors, it could possibly set your application back by half a year!
Your immigration lawyer helps take care of the paperwork and helps ensure the process goes smoothly. Most importantly, they help you arrive in America and set up your business on schedule. Otherwise, unwanted delays could cause serious problems for both your family and your business!
How Much Will the Lawyer Cost?
Now we come to the big question: how much will your immigration lawyer fees be? Unfortunately, this is not a question with a “one size fits all” answer.
For example, it’s not uncommon for a business immigration lawyer to charge over $4,000 for their services. But as with most legal services, the exact costs may vary due to many factors. These factors include the lawyer’s areas of expertise, their experience, and even the area where they live.
Remember, it usually costs nothing to get a quoted price from an immigration lawyer. We recommend contacting several lawyers and gathering prices so that you have a better idea of what a fair price really is.
How Much Is the Application Fee?
The bad news is that the exact cost of your immigration lawyer fees is up in the air. But the good news is that we have more exact prices for other aspects of the E2 visa, including the application.
The basic petition for your E2 visa is known as the I-129 petition. The cost of filing this petition is $460. If you need to make any amendments or extensions (more on this later), you will need to pay an additional $460.
Those who are living outside of America may need to use consular processing. If this is the case, then you will need to pay an additional $205. On top of that, there is an $85 biometric fee you must pay.
Long story short? If you already live in America, E2 applications will only cost $460. But if you live outside of America, the cost of applying is $750. By hiring a good immigration lawyer, you can avoid having to pay extra for things like amending your application!
Extra Cost For Premium Processing
Earlier, we touched on the fact that the standard E2 application process takes about six months (and things like COVID-19 may slow this down). This period of time is usually ideal for entrepreneurs who need to both prepare their family for the move and get their business set up.
However, you may find yourself in a much more time-sensitive situation and need to have your application processed much more quickly. It is possible to do so, though you will need to pay an additional cost.
With premium processing, you can have your petition processed in only 15 calendar days. This is a significant improvement over the six-month waiting period. Unfortunately, it is expensive: premium processing will add an additional fee of $1440!
It is important to note that paying extra for the premium processing will not improve your odds of getting your E2 visa approved. And choosing this speedier service makes it that much more important that you have a good immigration lawyer who can make sure all of your paperwork is in order.
Now, you know about the typical fees associated with both hiring an immigration lawyer and applying for your E2 visa. However, we are now going to focus on other things that can influence the overall cost you must pay.
Don’t Forget the Investment Cost
With so many different fees and different bits of paperwork, it’s understandable if you primarily focus on the E2 application and related costs. But when you’re budgeting for this whole venture, don’t forget the investment cost.
It’s important to have enough money set aside to start your business. And depending on your overall finances, it’s important to set your business up very quickly. This will help you start generating money almost immediately once you’re living in America.
So, how much money do you actually need to invest in your new business? That question is surprisingly difficult to answer. And that is because officially, the US government does not set a minimum or maximum amount of money that you need to invest.
However, the investment you make must be “substantial” rather than “marginal.” What does that actually mean? Basically, the government wants to make sure that any business that you set up is capable of not just sustaining itself, but providing a liveable income for you and your family.
One way that you can ensure you have a viable business and know exactly how much you need to invest is to open a franchise rather than start a business from scratch.
Benefits of Franchising
Part of what makes the E2 visa process so frightening is that every business is something of a gamble. No entrepreneur can be completely sure whether they have created the next big thing or something that is doomed to failure.
This gamble is scary enough for native-born Americans because a failed business means the loss of much money and even more time. But to those on an E2 visa, it’s even scarier because the business failing means they might eventually lose their visa status and have to leave the country.
Because of how important the success of your business is, we recommend you consider franchising instead of starting a business from scratch. With franchising, you have the peace of mind of knowing that you are stepping into a very successful business with an existing market of local customers.
Additionally, franchisees have a built-in support system in case anything goes wrong. Meanwhile, if you start a business from the ground up and something goes wrong, you may not have anyone you can turn to.
Ultimately, franchising can help you obtain all the benefits of an E2 visa and all the benefits of running your own business without any of the stress and frustration of entrepreneurship. And if you need it, franchise funding may be available.
What If I Need to Extend My E2 Visa?
Previously, we touched on one of the biggest benefits of the E2 visa: it can be extended indefinitely. So long as your business is successful, you can keep extending this visa and keep your family in the country. This is particularly important once your spouse and child find work, enroll in schools, and generally put roots down within the community.
However, every time you extend the E2 visa, you must pay a separate fee. And your spouse and children under 18 are going to need their own extensions filed just as they originally needed their own E2 visas filed.
So, how much can you expect to pay for the extensions? The initial filing fee remains $460. On top of that, the fee to extend or change nonimmigrant status is $370.
The ability to extend these E2 visas indefinitely is a major benefit, but the cost of these extensions adds up, especially if you have a large family. We recommend you pay close attention to extension deadlines and make sure you have enough money set aside to pay these fees.
Ways to Pay For These Different Fees
We have focused quite a bit on the different fees you can expect to pay during this process, including your immigration lawyer fees. But that brings us to a simple question: how are you supposed to pay for these fees?
Generally, these fees must be paid by money order or cashier’s check. In most instances, you cannot simply pay with a debit card, credit card, or cash.
If you are paying multiple fees, we recommend paying each one separately instead of trying to pay one large E2 fee. While this may lead to a slight increase in the cost of making the payments, it makes things much easier for you, your lawyer, and the government to sort through your different payments.
Bringing Workers With You
The E2 visa hinges on you setting up your own business. And as we touched on before, you have a strong incentive to get the business up and running quickly so that it can begin to generate income.
To help you set your business up quickly, the government allows you to bring workers from your native country over on the E2 visa. But in addition to paying a separate set of application fees for these workers, there are a few rules you need to know.
Basically, you can’t bring over an average worker. Instead, any workers that you try to bring over for your business must be specialists, essential workers, or someone working in a management capacity.
These are the core employees that you absolutely need to set up and then maintain your business. For other employee needs, you will need to hire local talent after you open the business.
Start a Franchise Today
Now you know how much you will need to pay your immigration lawyer and to the government. But do you know who can help you start a successful business right away?
We specialize in helping entrepreneurs just like you start their own franchises. To see how we can help you get started, just contact us today!