E-2 Visa Requirements Are Actually Good For Your Business. Here's Why
Director of Sales & Marketing
To the average applicant, E-2 visa requirements are viewed as an annoyance. These requirements are a to-do list of challenges that stand between you — a foreign investor or entrepreneur — and your ability to move to the US and start working on your business.
But here’s an alternative way of looking at it: E-2 visa requirements are actually GOOD for business.
This might be a controversial perspective, but foreign investors and founders are, in a way, lucky to be forced to meet them at the very beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.
By working through a checklist of business-related visa requirements, applicants are effectively forced into creating a solid foundation for their business. When you start a business, it’s easy to be distracted by the nitty-gritty of day-to-day operations, so some business owners don’t even realize they can benefit from more long-term, strategic things like a business plan, market research or financial projections.
Foreign investors or entrepreneurs applying for an E-2 visa have no choice, they need to work their way through a list of requirements. The process might be annoying, but your business will benefit in the long run. Here’s what you need to know about the E-2 visa requirements, and why they’re good for business.
A detailed business plan and the other requirements that are vital to the success of a E-2 visa application
The E-2 visa is especially prized by foreign investors, because it’s one of the fastest ways to enter the US and start or take over a business. It’s a non-immigrant visa given to individuals from treaty countries who have invested or are in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a US business. And while this isn’t legal advice (and you should always speak to a qualified immigration lawyer if you need legal advice!), we’ve worked with thousands of E-2 visa applications over the years and so we wanted to share a bit about it here for context.
In general, the E-2 visa allows individuals to work legally in the US for a prolonged period of time with unlimited two-year extensions as long as you maintain valid E-2 status. It also allows you to bring your dependents to live with you in the US.
In order to qualify for an E-2 visa you must meet a number of requirements, the first being that you must make a substantial investment in the business. While immigration regulations aren’t specific about the exact minimum investment amount, $100,000 is commonly cited as the baseline. In reality, however, it’s a bit more complicated since what is “substantial” can vary from business to business.
After figuring out and investing the appropriately “substantial” amount, the second most important part of your E-2 visa application is your business plan. An E-2 visa business plan should include at least the following sections:
- Executive overview. The executive overview will provide an overview of the company’s mission, clarify its objectives, and outline the ownership structure. This is the section where you can provide additional background information about yourself that may not be included in a resume.
- Company overview. The company overview details how your company will operate. This section includes in-depth information about the source of the investment funds and any related start-up costs.
- Product or service description. The product description includes an overview of the products or services offered, and how it will benefit your target market. This is also an excellent place to supply details related to intellectual property the company has, or research and development activities it is currently engaged in.
- Market analysis. An in-depth market analysis is essential to any business, so it’s important to prove that you’ve examined the industry, as well as the potential market area. Use this section to explain how you understand the US market, and how your research informed decisions concerning the business, its market, and its customers.
- Competitive analysis. This analyzes the competition your business will or is likely to face, and shows the immigration officer that you’ve actually studied your competition, understand the business risks involved, and have baked that into your business model.
- Sales strategy. The sales strategy overview will illustrate the financial viability of your business, and provide accurate assumptions for its viability and sustainability. Projections can be developed using a number of factors including information the investor has provided on product costs and market analysis.
- 5-year financial projections. Your E-2 visa business plan should include five years of financial projections that examine the profit and loss (income) statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flow. The projections can sometimes be based on the historic performance and current state of the company, while taking into account expectations and assumptions about future market conditions and business plans.
The purpose of an E-2 visa-specific business plan is to convince USCIS that your business has the potential to succeed, to make a financial contribution to the US economy, and to create local jobs. It is an absolutely crucial aspect of your E-2 visa application, so it’s vital that you invest time, effort, and money into doing it right.
Your E-2 visa application will benefit from the work you put into this, but so will your business. And here’s how.
E-2 visa requirements will benefit you and your business.
Creating a detailed business plan gives business owners, especially first-time business owners, direction. In general, E-2 visa applications require a substantial investment in the business, a business plan, a plan for hiring, some financial projections, and market research.
None of these requirements are easy and some cost money, so it’s tempting to skip something like market research. But doing market research can help a business owner know who their competition will be in the industry and geographic location they’re entering. This knowledge will help them understand how to approach marketing and how to differentiate themselves.
Taking the time to create an E-2 visa business plan gives business owners high-level direction and vision, which is important when a business hits a bump in the road. It’s also important to have financial or hiring projections that the business owner has to meet in order to keep their E-2 visa. This pressure is sure to motivate them to focus on revenue, employing people, and overall growth.
Investing the time to research and create this detailed business plan will force the business owner to sit down and look a few years into the future. It is not simply where they “hope” their business will be in five years, but realistically what their business can achieve in five years.
Crossing each of these tasks off a massive E-2 visa to-do list does add steps in the process, but when you think about it, all these things are great for a business to have. In reality, a lot of businesses don’t have market research, financial projections, or even a business plan – sure, they have an idea, a name, and maybe some next steps, but very often businesses go one day at a time, without much direction. And it doesn’t always get them very far.
For an E-2 visa business, you can’t do that. You have to show the US government that you’re serious about the business, have a plan to grow it, and have invested money to make it succeed. You need to prove all of this in your E-2 visa application, and you will certainly benefit yourself as a business owner and your business when you do it.
The E-2 visa application checklist can be long, but Joorney can help with the heavy lifting
It’s understandable that our instinct is to think these requirements are negative or a hurdle that stands between you and starting your business in the US. Instead, remember that being forced to create a business plan, do market research, get an office space, and otherwise invest your money and time makes you much more likely to succeed.
Joorney can help. We specialize in business plans, market research, financial projections and other support documents and services for investors and entrepreneurs looking to build a business in the US. The support documentation for an E-2 visa application process can feel overwhelming, but Joorney can provide you, alongside your immigration attorney, with everything you need for a strong visa application and, in the end, a strong business.
Since our start in 2013, Joorney has helped thousands of entrepreneurs and investors start or expand their businesses into the US via the E-2 visa. If you’re looking to move to the US by investing in an existing business or launching a new one, learn more about how we can support you or reach out to us directly!