The United States and Canada has a very close relationship, and of course we share a border that stretches for thousands of miles. But although the two countries are close, it has become more difficult in recent years for Canadians to immigrate to the U.S. One pathway many Canadians do not consider is the E2 visa, an investor visa that allows well-capitalized foreigners to invest in a viable U.S.-based business.
For Canucks who are thinking of following this route, it is important to understand that approval is far from automatic. Although the United States approves roughly 36,000 E2 visas a year, there are stringent requirements, and if you don’t meet them, you will be turned down. Here are the most important requirements to be approved for an E2 visa from Canada to the U.S.:
You Must be (at a minimum) 50% Owner of the Investment
Your new U.S.-based E2 business can have partners, but at the end of the day, the person applying for the visa must own at least 50% of the enterprise. So for example, if you live in Toronto and you have a brother who lives in Detroit, you and your brother can go 50/50 on a business you start in Detroit. Or, if you have two siblings in the U.S. who want to own 25% each, that’s fine too — as long as you retain at least 50% ownership.
You Must Make a “Substantial” Investment in your New Enterprise
The U.S. does not provide any clear guidelines on the exact amount that must be invested to quality for an E2 visa, but history has shown that those investing at least $100,000 USD have a much better chance of approval. Not to say that investing less than $100K is automatically grounds for denial; but that, just to be on the safe side, it is recommended that you have at least that much available.
The E2 Business You are Investing in Must Not Be “Marginal”
The underlying purpose of the E2 investor program is to create jobs for Americans. This is why the USCIS closely examines the business you are starting to ensure it is not “marginal”. And by marginal, they mean not a risky or sketchy business, such as a multi-level marketing scheme or something similar, and not a business whose sole purpose is to support you and your family living in America.
In general, what this means is they expect you to be able to create at least two American jobs with your new business. These jobs don’t have to be created immediately, but you should be able to show in your five-year business plan (which is required along with your E2 application) that you will be hiring at least two American employees before those five years are up.
How Franchises Increase the Chances of E2 Visa Approval
It can be challenging to come up with a legitimate business in the United States to invest in. But one way to greatly increase your odds is by starting a franchise. Today, there are countless franchise business opportunities in industries ranging from the traditional fast food to children’s services to automotive to pet care, and much more. The franchise brands are well-established and known to USCIS officers who will review your application. In addition, the franchisor provides you with a detailed, five-year business plan and all the support you need to get up and running. Remember, it is in the franchisor’s best interests for you to succeed, because their reputation is on the line.
So can you be successful going from Canada to the United States with an E2 visa business? Of course. Lots of startup businesses are successful, but we also know that a lot of them fail as well. To increase your chances of success not only with E2 approval but with the business itself, it is best to look at all your available options.
At Franchise City, our passion is to help aspiring entrepreneurs find the franchise opportunity that best fits your passion, skills and budget. We work with over 600 U.S.-based franchise brands across a wide range of industries, and through a unique, multi-step process, we put our experience to work to match you with your ideal business. Our services are completely free, and there are never any additional fees to purchase a franchise through a brokerage. If you are a Canadian looking to move to the U.S. through the E2 visa program, we invite you to check out http://franchisecity.net/visit/e2-visa/ for more information.