A successful entrepreneur from the United Kingdom with a small chain of retail outlets across his home country sought to expand to the US market. By engaging an immigration lawyer at an early stage of the process he was advised on the different options available to him, as well as all the necessary steps to comply with the US visa rules.
With the assistance of his immigration lawyers, he narrowed his choices down to either an E2 Treaty Investment Visa or a New Office L1 Transfer Visa. Both visas permitted him to move to the United States to manage the business and both permitted him the right to travel freely to and from the United States. This was particularly important to the entrepreneur because he needed to be able to return at times to the United Kingdom to check on his businesses there.
Ultimately, he opted for the E2 visa because it had a longer potential initial validity period than the new office L1 visa – up to five years for an E2 visa applicant from the United Kingdom vs one year for a new office L1 visa. He also preferred the fact that the E2 visa is potentially renewable again and again provided the US business continued to operate, whereas the L1 visa is only renewable up to seven years (although an L1 applicant can potentially stay in the US by applying for a Green Card, but this was less important to the individual in this case).
The individual met all the requirements for the E2 visa. The United Kingdom has the requisite treaty with the United States – in fact this particular treaty dates back 200 years. He also met the UK residency preconditions – which is a unique requirement of UK applicants that does not affect citizens of other countries.
The E2 Visa also requires a “substantial investment”. This individual had $215,000 in cash and inventory to invest, which was sufficient. Usually anything upwards of $100,000 is accepted. However, applicants investing less than $100,000 have also been accepted – what is important is ensuring that the proposed investment is sufficient to support the business proposition.
Working with his lawyer, the applicant prepared a detailed business plan, outlining his business concept, market analysis, financial projections and its job creation potential. The business plan was submitted, together with his application documentation, and his passport. He attended a visa interview at the US embassy in London where he was asked about his business plan, source of funds, and prior experience in the retail sector.
Due to the strong documentation and the individual’s credible business background, the visa application was approved and the applicant was permitted to move to the United States with his spouse – who is eligible to work in the United States – and their seven-year-old daughter.
After obtaining the E2 visa in his passport, the successful applicant moved to the United States with his family and opened his first US store and hired American staff to work in the store. He intends to open another store in the near future and should be in a strong position when he seeks to renew his E2 visa after the initial five year validity period ends.
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