One industry that has seen a rise of available jobs is the hospitality industry in the US, primarily hotels and Restaurants. Although many Hospitality workers wait months or even years for permission to live and work in the US legally, a small but growing number have found a legal path that is relatively simple and fast: come with LOTS OF MONEY to buy businesses here. As the Hospitality business is booming in the US, more and more Hospitality professionals in Europe are coming to the US and starting their own businesses via the E2 visa investment.
This is also known as the nonimmigrant investor visa. It is a temporary category that is granted in two-year to five year increments with no limits on the number of extensions. In comparison, the H-2B is limited to 10 months with 3 extensions. The E-2 category is available to citizens of countries that have a treaty of trade or commerce with the U.S. such as the Holland, France and the UK The State Department does not require any specific size investment. Rather it says the business owner must invest a “substantial amount of capital” that generates “more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family.”.
An E-2 allows European nationals to manage investments that are at least 50% Euro owned. The visa requires that the U.S. investment be substantial and generates a substantial income. While there are no hard and fast figures on what the minimum investment amount is, the USCIS generally require a business investment of $150,000 or more, but the investment amount depends on the nature of the business. For example, opening up a restaurant in downtown San Diego would require 500,000 dollars while opening up a Catering business firm may only require start up costs of $70,000. This is why there is no fixed figure on a minimum investment amount.
The E-2 investor must show that its return on investment is more than what is necessary to merely support the investor in the U.S. Another example illustrates how this works. An E-2 investor wishes to establish a French Bakery and will invest $35,000 to buy the equipment. He expects the Bakery to generate $60,000 in gross sales. This business would probably not qualify because the gross income generated would not be substantial. The Bakery would only generate enough money to support the investor.
Compare this to a business where the investor buys and runs a restaurant. He invests $130,000 setting up the place, and expects profits $300,000 in gross annual sales in the first year increasing profits by 25% every year thereafter. This E-2 investment will generate substantial income and will be seen as a substantial investment.
The E-2 investments may be in any lawful endeavor that will generate a substantial income. Some successful E-2s include Restaurants, Hotels, Baking facilities, Hospitality consulting services, etc. Many former chefs from Europe were successful in transferring their skills to the US by setting up E2 visa investment business. The E-2 is not limited to these types of businesses, but rather by the amount of income it generates.
E-2s may include intercompany transferees in management or specialized knowledge positions. For example, a French Hotel manager may be transferred on an E-2 visa to the U.S. to fill a management position. The company must be majority owned and controlled by citizens of France. The manager does not have to be an owner of the company. Unlike the H-1B, the E-2 visa holder’s spouse can also obtain work authorization for the duration of their E-2 status. He or she may then work anywhere.
The E-2 visa is beneficial to many who wish to work and conduct business in the U.S. It is not limited to just the owners of companies, but may be used by their managers and specialized knowledge workers. The process for obtaining an E-2 is complex and should not be attempted without a qualified immigration lawyer.