The E Visa for investors and entrepreneurs presents a straightforward avenue for non-US citizens from treaty countries to start a business in the United States. The visa has stringent requirements attached, but once obtained, can be a very business-friendly visa because it allows business owners to hire workers from their own country, and it can be extended without limit as long as the visa holder owns the business. Additionally, the investor visa seems to have avoided negative reverberations from the Trump Administration’s “America First” immigration memorandums, which have impacted other popular visa programs, including student visas, H-1B visas and family-based sponsorship petitions.
With that being said, there are common pitfalls that should be avoided in E-2 visas as you present your best case to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Here are 3 E-2 Visa Red Flags to be aware of during your petition:
Untraceable Source of Investment
Investment visas require a substantial investment by the visa holder, but that doesn’t mean showing up with $100,000 cash. USCIS will want to see a clean paper trail for your investment – it should be in your business bank account and should have been deposited into that account from other established bank accounts. Ideally, your investment should be no-strings-attached – avoid loans whenever possible – because USCIS wants to see that your investment is “at-risk.” The at-risk criterion acts as a bond of sorts, ensuring that investors are not using the investment to commit fraud.
Lack of Thoughtful Business Plan
An E-2 Visa should not be the starting point to your investment in the United States – it should be the last piece of the puzzle. You should be ready to start doing business as soon as your visa is approved and should have a thoughtful business plan that includes operating expenses and growth projections for your business. For more information, visit our legal primer for starting a business in the United States.
Business Identified as Being of High Risk of Fraud
This red flag can be the most difficult because it relies on the discretion of the officials who review your case. Factors to consider in this red flag is whether your native country is listed as a high-risk country of origin for criminal activity such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, or organized crime. The second consideration is whether the business is seen as the type of business that could facilitate a crime – such as a massage parlor, which has been a common front for human trafficking. This red flag might seem arbitrary, and in many ways it is, but if you are in doubt as to whether your business might not qualify based on your country of origin and type of business, make sure you talk with a qualified attorney before undertaking the process.
Setting Your Business Up for Success
Investment visas offer foreign investors and entrepreneurs a chance to experience their American dream – to start and grow a business using their ingenuity, skills, and perseverance. We have worked with business owners from around the world to start businesses of all sizes – from consultancies to franchises and restaurants to physician practices. Call us today for a free consultation about your investor visa application if you have questions about the process or if you are looking for an experienced immigration attorney. For more information about E Visas, download our complimentary Guide for Trade and Investment.