Persons seeking to become business owners may develop their own business concept to access a previously untapped market and/or need, or they may decide to buy an existing business or a franchise.
Unlike starting a new business from scratch, franchise investments help connect prospective business owners with a pre-existing business model and potentially an established demand for certain goods or services. Franchise companies may invest heavily in marketing and may already have a trusted domestic brand, which can potentially lead to faster growth and greater overall profits. Franchise owners often have support in the form of training and marketing investments.
Can those thinking of investing in a franchise opportunity potentially use that investment to secure an E-2 treaty investor visa?
Some franchise efforts may qualify
There are numerous rules in place for those applying for an E-2 visa as an investor. The first and most important is that the would-be franchise investor must be a citizen of a country that has an existing economic treaty with the United States.
Beyond that, a franchise investor will need to meet multiple other requirements to qualify for E-2 visa issuance. While there is no set minimum investment amount required for E-2 visa issuance, the amount must be determined to be “substantial” as related either to the cost of an existing business or the capital amount required to establish a successful business of the type in which the visa applicant is investing. An investment of between $100,000 to $200,000 or more is typical of the capital investment required for some types of franchises. To meet the “control” requirement for E-2 visa issuance, the applicant will need to have at least a 50% ownership interest in the franchise. In addition, to establish that the investment is not “marginal” the business will need to generate employment opportunities within the United States and not merely serve as a source of income for the investor and his or her family. The location of the franchise, the number of locations, the total amount of capital invested and the number of jobs generated will be relevant for determining whether or not the applicant is found to be eligible for an E-2 treaty investor visa.
Investor visas require careful planning and competent legal counsel
Meeting the criteria for an E-2 visa as a franchise investor is often possible, but applicants should work with a competent immigration attorney able to advise on the suitability of the treaty investor classification for a person in the applicant’s situation and to prepare the visa application and supporting documents and information to be submitted to the U.S. consular office abroad or to USCIS in the U.S. Careful preparation and working with experienced legal counsel can make the difference in whether or not an aspiring entrepreneur will able to successfully obtain an E-2 treaty investor visa and own and operate a franchise business in the U.S.
This information is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between Law Offices of Robert P. Gaffney and anyone else. This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice based on an individual or organization’s particular facts and circumstances, and it should not be considered as such.