E2 Visa Update: Is E2 Processing Slower Under President Trump?

Many foreign nationals have been rightfully concerned about U.S. immigration policies since President Trump took over. While campaigning, the president made clear that he wanted to crack down on illegal immigration, pledging to build a wall on the southern border to help address this issue. He also talked about the need to streamline the legal immigration system, to make it more merit-based and less family-based, and to ensure that those coming into the U.S. would make substantive contributions to society.

One of the areas in question is the E2 visa program. The E2 is an investor visa program in which foreign nationals can make a substantial investment in a legitimate U.S.-based business. The program allows investors to live and work in the U.S. while the business is active, and they can even bring their spouse and underage children with them. Although the E2 is not a permanent resident visa, it can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business is still operating. In addition, there are several potential ways an E2 visa can lead to a green card.

E2 Visas in the Trump Era

In recent years, the United States has approved around 36,000 E2 visas annually. This averages out to about 3,000 per month. Traditionally, the timeframe for the approval process has been 1-3 months as long as you have all your paperwork in order. Under the new Administration, there has been some minor tightening of the E2 process, but nothing that should deter a legitimate investor from pursuing this path.

Previously, the investor had always been advised to have at least $100,000 USD to invest in a business. Though this is not a firm number, it has been a good general guideline for approval. There has been some flexibility in the past with the investment amount, however, and applicants had been known to gain approval with a lower investment. Currently, we are advising that you have $100,000 USD at a minimum, but if possible, it would be best to come up with $125,000 to $150,000 just to be safe.

Another area of greater scrutiny is the type of business. The guidelines have always stated that the business you invest in must not be “marginal”. By marginal, they mean a risky business such as multi-level marketing or similar business models, or a business created for the express purpose of supporting the investor and his/her family. USCIS officers are now examining this more closely, and you need to be very careful which type of business model you choose.

The Ideal E2 Visa Business Model

In our experience, the best type of business for E2 visa applicants to invest in is a franchise. Franchise businesses work very well with the E2, because they are established brands which are well-known to USCIS officers. Another great advantage is that the franchisor provides a detailed business plan (another major requirement for E2 approval), and extensive training and support. The franchisor has a strong interest in your success, because their brand and reputation is on the line. For this reason, they will provide a high level of support to help you as a franchisee become successful.  

When people think of franchises, most think of fast food restaurants. And while it is true that food franchises can be lucrative, there are numerous other business models you can choose from. For example, you can be successful with a franchise in a wide range of industries, such as senior care, cleaning, health and fitness, children’s services, and even sales-based. In fact, at National Franchise Business Solutions, we work with over 600 franchise brands, and through a multi-step process, we match E2 visa applicants with the franchise business that best suits their passion, skills, and budget.

The Future of the E2 Visa Program

What can we expect for the next 3-7 years of the Trump Administration in regards to the E2 visa program? In our opinion, there will only be minor changes, and we have probably seen most of that already. It is important to keep in mind that the E2 investor visa is fully aligned with President Trump’s policy objectives. Trump wants to bring more investment into the United States and create more American jobs, and the E2 program does both. So if you are considering viable options for doing business in the U.S., the E2 visa remains one of the best programs available for foreign entrepreneurs.

 

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USA E2 Visa Franchises: What are the Requirements for an E2 Visa?

If you are a foreign business owner or investor, an E2 visa can offer a smooth path to temporary residency in the United States. It is important to point out that the E2 is a non-immigrant visa; meaning it does not provide a direct pathway to permanent residency in the U.S. That said, E2 visas are issued for a period of two to five years with unlimited renewals as long as you continue to meet the requirements.

One of the best ways to come to the United States as a business owner or investor is through a USA E2 visa franchise. Franchises offer several advantages over businesses you may start from scratch, including:

  • A proven business model;

  • A replicable business plan that will fulfill one of the major E2 requirements;

  • A recognizable brand name that will increase your chances of an E2 approval;

  • Detailed training from an established brand with a vested interest in your success.

In short, established franchise brands offer foreign investors the best chances for not only E2 visa approval, but for long-term success once you establish your business in America. Of course, nothing is guaranteed and you still need to put in the work, but if you follow the proven business plan, there is a good chance you will be able to continually renew your visa and remain in the United States indefinitely.

USA E2 Visa Franchise Requirements

In order to be approved for an E2 visa, you must first originate from one of the 80 or so E Treaty countries. Among the countries that qualify for an E2 franchise visa include Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jordan, Iran, South Korea, The Philippines and many others. Some notable exceptions that are not on the list include China, Russia and Israel. Assuming you are from an approved country, there are several other requirements you need to meet, including

You must have a “substantial” amount to invest in a U.S.-based business

While there is no set amount required by the U.S. government, experience dictates that by “substantial”, they typically mean at least $100,000 USD to $150,000 USD. So it is safe to assume that you should be investing $100,000 USD at a minimum.

You must be investing in at least 50% of the business enterprise

This is pretty straightforward; your investment needs to be enough to purchase a minimum of 50% of the business or franchise you are investing in.

You must be able to document that you obtained your funds legally

Though some of your money may come from family either in your home country or abroad, you must be able to provide documentation that your investment capital was obtained legally.

The business you are investing in must NOT be a “marginal” enterprise

By “marginal”, they mean a business that is sketchy such as a multi-level marketing group or an unproven startup. This is why USA franchises are a perfect fit for those who want approval for an E2 visa; franchises are real, proven and known to USCIS officers, so they are not likely to be considered marginal.

What about Moving to the United States?

When many foreign national hear about the E2 business opportunity, they are initially excited – wow, this is our chance to come and live in America, and all we have to do is have the money to substantially invest in a real business! But then reality sets in; where in the U.S. are we going to live? What about moving expenses, housing, etc.? What about our family here at home?

With any international move, there are several issues like these to address. As far as moving expenses and housing go, it is strongly recommended that you have at least an additional $50,000 USD (on top of your franchise investment) to cover airline tickets, housing and living expenses for several months while your new business gets up and running.

Cost of living will vary depending on the part of the country you move to. If you choose to move to a large city such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or San Francisco, housing is much more expensive than living in a lower population area such as Reno, Nevada. You will also want to consider climate; if you are used to warm weather, you may not want to move to Minnesota or the East Coast. Southern California, Texas or Florida may be better options.

As for your family, you are allowed to bring your spouse and children under age 21 on an E2 visa. Your spouse may obtain employment authorization while living here and your children may study here. Once your children turn 21, however, their visas will expire and they will need to adjust their status to remain in the U.S. legally. Of course, if your business is expanding, your children could always invest in a new franchise location to remain in the country legally.

What Type of USA E2 Visa Franchise Should I Invest In?

There are literally hundreds of franchise business opportunities across a wide range of industries, many of which would easily qualify for an E2 investor visa. Since indefinite residence in the United States is directly tied to the success of the business you invest in, you need to find the franchise opportunity that best fits your passion, skills and budget. Rather than deal with hundreds of franchise recruiters trying to sell you on their particular brand, the most efficient path is to work with a franchise broker.

At Franchise City, we provide free unlimited consulting for foreign nationals interested in an E2 visa franchise. Through a proven multi-step process, we help clients narrow down their choices to the franchise brands that give them the best chance at success. Our services are low pressure and completely free – you can take all the time you need to decide which business is right for you. To begin taking advantage of our services, fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

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