Many prospective clients come to us to ask for help with the preparation of a business plan that would be submitted as part of a petition (application) for an E-2 visa, commonly referred to as an “Investor Visa.” It is interesting to note that in many instances, these clients have no idea what business they should invest in. Perhaps they should purchase an existing business or invest in a startup. We always recommend that, in these cases, the client should consider purchasing a franchise that operates in an area for which they have an interest or, better yet, experience. Why purchase a franchise?
Before answering that question, we should point out there are some critical requirements that must be met by an E-2 petitioner. In summary, the key ones include:
- You must be a passport holder of a “treaty country.”
- The business must be “a real, active, commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit.”
- The business must be large enough to provide you and your family with enough income to support yourselves.
- You must be prepared to invest your own capital into the enterprise, and importantly, you must be prepared to lose that capital.
So, why do we recommend purchasing a franchise?
- Franchises are real businesses. Franchisors are regulated and they must file documents to prove they are legitimate businesses before they are allowed to sell a franchise.
- When you buy a franchise, you are buying, among other things, training and support.
- A franchise provides a roadmap for someone who is not familiar with how business is conducted in the U.S. It will help overcome the barriers of doing business in a second language and in doing business in a new culture.
- You will be starting your business career in the U.S. with an established name and brand.
- You may increase your chances of having your application looked upon favorably because of the credibility that a franchise provides.
- You will become part of a business that is already successful. This does not mean that you will be successful, but this is a great start.
- It is well known that an established franchise has a better chance of long-term success than a startup.
- It may be easier for you to hire workers because employees will naturally be more attracted to a recognizable name that they can find on the internet, rather than a startup.
- If in the future you decide to sell your business and return to your home country, you may be able to achieve a higher sale price than if you have an independent business.
A little-known fact is that you can actually apply for your E-2 visa without having to purchase the franchise until you have been approved for the visa. Simply get approved by the franchisor for the purchase of the franchise, open a bank account in the U.S., deposit the required capital into the account, and then proceed with the petition. If the petition is denied for any reason, you simply close the bank account and take your money home.
If you agree that purchasing a franchise is the right approach to securing an E-2 visa, here are some final tips. As a first step, hire an American immigration attorney. There are many excellent ones that can be found online. Find the franchise that is right for you, and then ask that franchisor for approval to become a franchisee. Prepare documentation to prove that you have the capital to invest in a franchise and the working capital to have a successful launch. If you need help, you can hire Cayenne Consulting to prepare a professional, fully USCIS-compliant immigration visa business plan.