Did you know that you can purchase an existing business in the United States and qualify for an E-2 investor visa, and that a franchise purchase can qualify you? Provided the franchisor is willing to allow its investors to apply for the visa during the process of buying the franchise, this type of business transaction can lead to approval of your application for a nonimmigrant E-2 investor visa. The franchise must create job openings for Americans, and like other foreign business investments, a franchise owner is required to open the business, or be ready to open within 30 days, to qualify to submit the E-2 visa application.
If necessary, you can combine finances with a friend or relative to purchase and establish a franchise in the United States, or buy half the shares of an already operational franchise. However, to qualify for an E-2 investor visa, you must buy at least half of the franchise’s shares. Under the regulations, you cannot claim the required ownership and control of a franchise for your E-2 visa application if you own less than 50% of the business.
Keep in mind, the purchase of a franchise alone will not result in approval of an E-2 visa application just because you own a business in the United States. Your application will be rejected if the business is not profitable. A franchise must be profitable and contribute to the local economy to qualify for the E-2 investor visa.
The objective in allowing the E-2 investor to do business in the United States is to create a source of income for U.S. Citizens and boost the economy. Every E-2 business, including a franchise, is expected to generate more than enough income to provide a living for the investor and their family. Ideally, however, consulate officers like to see a company start with at least two employees with an expressed intent in the business plan to increase staff throughout year 5 of operations.
You yourself must assume an active role in the management of your franchise. You cannot qualify for an E-2 visa as a passive investor. This does not mean that you must work and run the business entirely by yourself, but you must show that you will be involved in the decision making and overall functioning of your business and employees. It is expected and encouraged to hire executives and management staff with the experience to fill certain key roles in larger franchise operations that employ more than just 2 or 3 employees. You should also hire regular staff and employees, preferably in full-time positions, to fill various other roles within your franchise.
FIND OUT WHERE YOU STAND! Have an existing business venture? Would you like more information? You may already qualify for a benefit that you are not aware of yet. If you have never talked to an immigration attorney about your situation before, now is the best time to do so – before the new administration starts making changes that may affect you, your family, or your business. Contact an experienced, licensed attorney to find out what YOU can do to help your situation. If you would like our assistance, contact our office today at 210-932-3600 to set up a consultation.