e2 visa for a solopreneur

Immigration lawyers are oftentimes asked if solo businesses qualify for the E2 Visa.

I have heard some lawyers say that they have successfully filed E2 Visa applications for solopreneurs. They argued that the enterprise would stimulate the economy by creating indirect or contract based jobs. This is a solid argument since most solo businesses need an accountant, a marketing person, etc. 

However, while I accept the premise that solo businesses have a positive effect on the US economy, I would nonetheless avoid a one person business model if you want to get an E2 Visa. This is why…

E2 Visa Businesses Cannot be Marginal

The foreign affairs manual clearly states that your E2 investment cannot be marginal. A business investment is marginal if it only provides support for you and your family. 

This requirement  is being strongly enforced as a result of the Trump Administration’s priorities. President Trump has signed the Buy American Hire American Executive Order.(BAHA) The order is intended to prevent the displacement of American workers by foreign nationals. BAHA has had a far reaching impact on the US Business Immigration landscape.

In the E2 context, BAHA has resulted in heightened scrutiny of E2 Investments. You should assume that your E2 Visa application will be closely scrutinized to determine if the business that you have invested in will likely employ US workers. If the government decides that the business will not create jobs, your application will probably be denied. 

The Effects of an E2 Visa Denial

It would be wise to prevent a rejected application based on marginality. For most applicants a denial is extremely frustrating, disruptive and costly. The E2 Visa requirements mandate that you invest in your business to the point where it is operational at the time of the application. This means that you could spend a ton of time, energy and money to prepare for business operations only to have your application denied because the government isn’t convinced that you will need employees.

Avoiding a Denial Based on Marginality

So…how do you avoid that scenario? The best way to avoid a denial due to marginality is by carefully planning that starts early in the process. Here are some steps that you can take…

  1. Talk to an Immigration Lawyer about your business idea;
  2. Conduct market research so that you can point to data that demonstrates that businesses like yours require employees;
  3. Gain the support of the local chamber of commerce. 

You Also Need a Great Business Plan!

It is also supremely important to submit a clear and well-crafted business plan.

A polished business plan can help you show how your business is intended to grow. It will also forecast the personnel that will be needed for the business to operate. Presenting an easily understood business plan that shows how all of the E2 visa requirements are being met will make the decision maker’s job easier. This in turn will increase your odds of a successful process.

Conclusion–Solopreneur E2 Visa Applicants Beware!

The idea of having a solo business is enticing in our modern world. Technology and internet based service providers have made it easier than ever to run a lean operation that does not require permanent staff. Unfortunately, when you are applying for the E2 Visa, it would be wise to avoid the solopreneur model.

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