You are about to make a very big life-changing decision. You intend to move to another country and see how your business skills match up with local investors and business owners. You are not alone.
Each year, thousands of entrepreneurs and experienced business executives decide to move to the United States and many other countries for a number of reasons:
- The market opportunity is greater than where you now do business.
- There is less bureaucracy than in your native country.
- Taxes are lower.
- You have safety concerns for your family.
- You want a better education for your children.
Having made the decision, the immigration process then begins. It is critical that, from the start, you understand that this is not an easy process. Governments establish strict guidelines for all types of immigrants – including investor immigrants – and it is the duty of the immigration authorities to ensure that in granting investor visas, those guidelines are carefully and clearly followed. For a summary of investor visa requirements for many countries, read this article. For investors and entrepreneurs wishing to come to the U.S., the two most often used programs are the E-2 Treaty Investor visa and the L-1 visa.
Suggestions for Government Approval of Your Visa Application
You can make the visa application process less stressful by following these tips:
- Be organized. Know the documentation that will be required by the immigration authorities and have it in a presentable form and in the language stipulated.
- Hire an immigration attorney as early in the process as possible. Your attorney will help you avoid costly and time-consuming errors, and will provide step-by-step guidance along the way.
- Establish a legal entity for the business in the new country.
- Most countries require that you invest at least a minimum amount in your new business, while others require an undetermined amount just as long as it is sufficient for the entrepreneur to successfully launch the business and take care of his or her family in the early years of the investment. If possible, after the new legal entity is formed, open a bank account in the new country and deposit sufficient funds for the launch of the business as well as to care for your family.
- Some countries will require that you apply for and receive a residence permit, either before or simultaneously with your entrepreneur visa application.
- In addition to the funds to be deposited into the new bank account, the immigrant will incur other expenses throughout the process. You must have proper receipts and other documents that will prove that these investments/expenditures have been made. These expenses might include:
- Costs related to the founding of the new business.
- Professional fees.
- Travel-related costs for you and your family.
- Temporary living costs for you and your family.
Importance of a Professional Business Plan
In our experience, the heart of any successful investor/entrepreneur visa application is the business plan. Seeking the visa is very similar to going into a bank to get a business loan: the bank will want to know what the business is about, the characteristics of the market it operates in, what competition it faces, management’s qualifications to run and grow the business, and any other factors that will influence whether or not the business is likely to succeed and repay the loan over the next few years.
In the immigration context, the applicant is not seeking a loan, but rather the right to do business in the new country. But the central criterion for approval is still quite similar: demonstrating to the immigration adjudicator that this business will succeed financially and make a healthy profit after it has paid all expenses (including the salary of the owner/investor).
The old expression “do it right the first time” has never been more important than in navigating the complex process of applying for and receiving an investor/entrepreneur visa. As early in the process as possible, we suggest that you get help, be organized, follow the rules, and embrace the process.
Welcome to your new country and good luck.