In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the E-2 visa option for franchisees with Sheila Purim the co-founder of Franchise Wizard, a consulting service that helps entrepreneurs connect with franchisors.
The E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities. Investment activities include the creation of a new business or investment to purchase a business. The E-2 visa is only available to foreign nationals from a country that has a qualifying treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, or a similar agreement exists with the United States. One way to qualify for the E-2 visa is to invest in an existing franchise in the United States. The franchisee is given authorization by a company or business owner to carry out commercial activities and operate a business based on the company’s business model.
It is our pleasure to introduce our readers to our senior case manager, Inese Grate, one of the original members of the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick. Ms. Grate joined our firm when there were merely 2 employees working at the office. In addition to studying law in Latvia, Ms. Grate received her Master’s in Law in International Business Transactions from Temple University Beasley School of Law and attended the International Law Institute at Georgetown University School of Law.
Ms. Grate specializes in business and family immigration, corporate, international trade, and international transactions. Ms. Grate provides consultation on strategic investment in the United States for international clients and corporations to identify potential opportunities, create jobs, and develop successful businesses. Throughout her professional career, she has taken several international and U.S. startup companies from an ideation phase through to establishment and registration.
Ms. Grate is unique in that she thinks outside of the box. She utilizes her professional network of financial advisors, real estate brokers, investors and industry experts to assist our clients according to their individual needs. Throughout her career, Ms. Grate has helped numerous corporations and individuals in the United States as well as several European countries in various immigration/business related issues. Ms. Grate evaluates business plans and works on all related immigration issues including visas, licenses, and permits.
In this segment Attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick Esq. discusses a new proposed rule referred to as the International Entrepreneur Rule. This new rule is expected to make it easier for certain foreign entrepreneurs to receive temporary permission to enter the United States, also known as ‘parole,’ for the purpose of starting or scaling their start-up business enterprise in the United States. For more information please keep watching.
Under this new rule, DHS would have discretionary authority to grant parole to eligible entrepreneurs of start-up companies who can demonstrate the following:
At least a 15 percent ownership interest in the startup enterprise in question;
That they take on an active and central role in the startup enterprise’s operations;
That the startup enterprise has been formed in the United States within the past three years; and
That the startup enterprise has proven to yield a substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation as evidenced by:
Having received a significant investment of capital of at least $345,000 from certain qualified U.S. investors that have a proven track record of success i.e. showing established records of successful investments;
Having received significant awards or grants of at least $100,000 from federal, state, or local government entities; or
By partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria, in addition to presenting other reliable and compelling evidence to show the startup entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation in the United States.
In this segment, attorney Jacob Sapochnick Esq., addresses common E visa myths and the facts surrounding the E visa program.
Here are the common myths and misconceptions that clients have about the E visa program:
The first myth is that you need to invest more than $100,000 to be able to obtain the E visa. This is not true. According to the law, in order to qualify for an E visa, the investment amount must be reasonable. The amount you will invest will depend on the type of business you trying to set up. For example, if you are interested in starting a consulting company, a reasonable amount would be $50,000 or higher depending on your expenses. If you are looking to start a restaurant, $50,000 would likely not be enough to cover your expenses. When considering how much money to invest, you must first determine the kind of business you want to invest in, and how much money you will need to properly set up the business and cover your expenses. We recommend that investors develop a 5-year business plan to explain how the investment funds will be allocated to cover the company’s expenses over an extended period of time. The business plan will also project the company’s growth and other important factors.
Keep in mind that the lower the amount is that you have invested in the business, the more you are going to have to spend from that money, before the case is filed with USCIS. Before a case is submitted to USCIS, most of the money must be invested in the new company, to show USCIS that your investment is committed and at risk.
The second myth is that investment in real estate qualifies for the E visa program. Unfortunately, investing in real estate is not sufficient for E visa purposes. To qualify for the E visa program, the new business must be active. Additionally, you must demonstrate to USCIS that new jobs will be created for Americans and that the company will generate revenues in the future.
Another question that typically comes up is whether E visa holders can work from home. In some cases, yes E visa holders may be able to work from home. We strongly advise against this. The more documented evidence the E visa holder can provide USCIS to prove that their investment is at risk, the higher the likelihood that the E visa will be approved. If you are running your business from home, there may be a presumption that you are minimizing your investment, and that your investment is not at risk. It is typically discouraged to set up the business from home for this reason.
Another common question is whether an investor can move money to the US, and upon approval of the E visa, transfer the money back to a foreign account. The answer is no. The money that you invest in the new company must be committed and at risk. If you transfer the money abroad once your E visa has been approved, you will not be able to extend your E visa, and you may potentially run the risk of being investigated by USCIS for fraud.
Overall there is no set amount that you need to invest, you cannot invest in real estate for E visa purposes, and it is not recommended that you work from home.
To learn more about the E visa, and other work visas please click here. Please call our office for a free consultation.
The Treaty Investor Visa (nonimmigrant E-2 classification) is intended for nationals of a foreign country with which a qualifying Treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, or a similar agreement exists with the United States.
Nationals (individuals or companies) of countries with such Treaties with the United States can obtain visas to work in the USA in order to develop and direct their investment with the USA. E-2 visa is for individuals coming to the U.S. to invest a substantial amount of capital or to direct and develop the business operations of an entity in which the individual has already invested funds.
Do Franchises qualify for E2 Investor Visa?
Yes, most franchises will be a good fit for this type of visa. For the application to be successful, the investor must assume an active role in the management the franchise business. Passive investment is not allowed.
It is important to hire staff and employees to fill various roles within the franchise. But is expected that the investor will be involved in some sort of decision making role within the franchise business’s organizational structure.
But, it is expected and encouraged to hire management staff with the appropriate experience to fill certain key positions.
Does the investor Need to Buy the Business Before applying for an E-2 Investor Visa?
Establishing a business in the United States is regarded as a key requirement for buyers that are applying for an E-2 visa.
The best course of action is to place the monies that will be used to purchase the business in an escrow account in the United States. In the visa application it is possible to state that the purchase of the business is contingent on the approval of the E-2 Visa and will be finalized once the approval is obtained. It is also important to get all the documents from the Franchise processed, so that a full package can be presented to the US Immigration when filing for the visa application.