The Top 5 Most Common Mistakes that Lead to USCIS Rejection or RFE
Obtaining an E-2, L-1 or EB-5 business visa to live and work in the US requires careful planning and a lot of hard work. One of the most crucial documents that go with your visa petition is your visa business plan. It has to be well researched, professionally written, and very convincing. Even minor errors, omissions, and inconsistencies can result in the denial of your visa. In our experience, clients that come to us hoping to resolve a Request For Evidence (RFE), or looking to apply again following a denial, generally made one of these 5 most mistakes in their initial visa business plans. At Joorney, our writers have learned from the mistakes of others, and we have compiled this list of the top 5 mistakes most commonly made that lead to USCIS rejection or RFE.
1. Business Description:
The immigration officer reviewing your business visa application wants to ensure that you are investing your money in a solid, legitimate, and viable business. Therefore, your business description should give a detailed and positive picture of your business. The reasons many applications are rejected or receive RFEs include descriptions written hastily, processes not defined clearly, suppliers not clearly identified, and business models that are not shown to be sustainable.
A good business description for a visa business plan should cover the following:
- Company basics: Whether new or established, number of years the company has been in business, company structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation), principal owner, number of employees, general management structure, type of business (service or manufacturing), and primary business (retail or wholesale)
- Mission statement: Your mission statement should sum up the purpose of your company in a few sentences. It should give the immigration officer a clear idea about your business
- Current and future goals: Short and long-term goals for the future. The goals should be quantifiable and reasonable
2. Industry analysis is not positive enough:
Among the top reason for USCIS rejection or RFE (request for evidence) is an industry analysis that is not presented positively enough. The industry analysis is an important component of your visa business plan. It involves reviewing the economic, political, and market factors that affect the industry you will be working in. It should examine important factors such as market condition, suppliers, buyers, competitors, and the likelihood of new entrants. Your industry analysis should present your company in a more favorable light relative to other companies that offer similar products or services. Even if your industry is not trending well, the visa business plan should indicate how you intend to overcome the challenges currently faced by operators in your industry. It should give the immigration officer the impression that the investment has a solid chance of success.
Complete industry analysis should include:
- Industry Description: Current state of your industry and relevant industry metrics (size, trend, life cycle, projected growth, etc.)
- Industry Outlook: Where the industry is headed, relevant forecast metrics (size, trend, life cycle, projected growth, etc.)
3. Incomplete or poorly researched market analysis:
The importance of proper market analysis in a visa business plan cannot be overstated. The market analysis should give a clear idea of the road your business is traveling. A well-researched and written market analysis enables a company to lure investors, sidestep pitfalls, attract customers, and most importantly, in this case, impress the immigration officer. Often, business visa petitions get rejected because of incomplete, poorly researched, or poorly written market analysis.
A complete market analysis should include the following:
- Description of the target market: Market size, demography of potential customers (age, income, location), customers’ purchasing power, customers’ psychology
- Competitive analysis: primary competitors and their strengths and weaknesses, the importance of the target to the company, market size and growth rate, barriers to entry (potential pitfalls, costs of entry, etc.), the window of opportunity (the right time to enter the market, required technology and other tools, etc.)
4. Vague and evasive projection of employment generation:
The main purpose of the E-2 and EB-5 business visa is to attract foreign investment in order to generate employment for US workers in targeted areas of the United States. In view of this, the USCIS expects clear, specific, and detailed descriptions of how your company will create employment, for how many US workers, how much they will be paid, and what roles they will perform in your company’s employment. The reason many petitions are denied or receive RFE is that the information they provide is vague, evasive or unsupported.
A good projection of employment generation should contain the following:
- Who the company will hire (demography of the target employees)
- Number of people the company will hire, including managerial staff (there should be at least the minimum number of employees required by the USCIS)
- Duties and responsibilities of each position
- Staff salaries and perks (should be in compliance with the state’s minimum wage)
- For L-1 Applications, it should be specified that the applicant will only have supervisory obligations starting Year 2
5. Unrealistic and confusing financial forecasts:
A financial forecast is an estimate of the financial outcomes for your company in the future. Made using past internal accounting and sales data as well as external market and economic indicators, it predicts the future business conditions that are likely to affect your company’s chances of success. The most difficult part of preparing a financial forecast is predicting the revenue and it is where many financial forecasts falter. The main reason that many visa petitions are denied or receive an RFE is that their financial forecast is unrealistic (too high in most cases) and confusing.
The key elements of a good financial forecast are actual month-to-date results, the forecast itself based on available data, risks, and opportunities in achieving your goals, the actions you will take to minimize risks and maximize opportunities, the roadblocks that are likely to hinder progress, and the actions you will take to overcome the obstacles.
A financial forecast should address the following:
- A summary of expenses for starting your business and running it successfully
- Sales forecast for the first 5 years
- Profit and loss forecasts for the first 5 years
- Cash flow forecasts, showing that key variable factors like sales revenue and wages have been given a lot of consideration
- Any other financing required to start and sustain the business
Most importantly, your financial plan should be realistic. It should not have any unrealistic financial figures, such as highly inflated revenue projections, that are likely to arouse the suspicion of the immigration officer.
As in running a business, there are innumerable ways to fail, but only a few ways to succeed while applying for an E-2, L1, or EB-5 business visa. In order to maximize your chance of success, it is always advisable to hire a reputable company to prepare your business plan. Having been in the business for over two years, we at Joorney know all about writing successful visa business plans.
Call us today to find out more.