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Today, I am going to cover the E-2 visa requirement that says that your business must be a real and operating commercial enterprise.

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Real and Operating Commercial Enterprise?

First of all, what does this mean that the business must be a real and operating enterprise? To me, it means—in most cases— that you have done everything that is needed to get the business to a point where it is operational or right on the cusp of becoming operational.

For example, let’s say that you are opening a bakery and you have a long list of to dos that must be checked off before you open your doors. You have to secure a location and pay for a build out, you have to buy kitchen equipment, furniture, etc. You have to create a website and social media accounts. You have to apply for all of the necessary licenses. And the list goes on.

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Why Operational?

In order to put yourself in the best possible position for a successful application, you should complete all of the tasks on your to-do list before you apply. In an ideal situation the very last thing that has to happen in order for you to open your bakery is for you to get an E-2 visa to allow you to manage the business on opening day.

A lot of people are perplexed by this requirement and for good reason. Why would someone work hard and spend a lot of money  to get their business to a point where it is fully operational if they do not yet have permission from the us govt to run the business in the US? From a business perspective this does not make sense. Ideally you would get the visa and then follow through with your plans and execute on your vision. But, when you think about this requirement from the perspective of the US government, it starts to make sense. 

The E-2 visa comes with some major perks. My favorite perk is that the spouse of the investor can get work authorization. Can you imagine the potential for abuse if the US government didn’t closely examine E-2 applications and did not require proof of a real and operating commercial enterprise?

Without this requirement— or the committed investment requirement—a foreign National could simply present a plan showing what they intend to do, and secure the E2 visa without ever actually intending to grow a business. This would give the spouse the ability to work.

So, this requirement is intended to curb abuse. And unfortunately, this means that legit entrepreneurs who want to build a US business have to convince the government that their intentions are true and their business is the real deal.

Conclusion: Real and Operational E-2 Visa Requirement

Hopefully, this requirement makes a little more sense now. If you have questions about the E-2 visa I highly encourage you to reach out to one of the many amazing E-2 visa lawyers that you can find across the globe.

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Benjamin Frear, Esq.

Immigration Lawyer For Entrepreneurs

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