Acquire a Franchise Business and Move to the United States

Did you know it was possible to move to the United States to run a franchise business. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows people to emigrate to the US for the purposes of investing in and managing a business. This can include a franchise.

In this video, our Global Chairman Mark Davies, addresses some of the frequently asked questions about franchise business. And advises on some of the pitfalls to be aware of and to avoid.

For example, franchise brokers can help with the whole process. However, it is important to know if they are earning commission and to seek external advise.

Not all franchises are eligible for the E-2 visa, so it is important to check first. It is especially useful to have a corporate lawyer review the franchise agreement before you sign.

If you are not from an E-2 Treaty Country. Contact us to discuss ways to become eligible for the E-2 visa. This usually involves obtaining citizenship of a country that has an E-2 Treaty with the United States. Grenada and Turkey offer the most cost-effective pathways to citizenship.

This article and video is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients.


Davies & Associates Sees First US E2 Visa Approval as US Embassies Reopen

US consular services are finally starting to get back to work after a Covid-enforced hiatus. Davies & Associates yesterday received its first approval since the pandemic caused a shut-down of all but essential operations at US embassies in March. But with US airspace still closed to travellers from many countries, a National Interest Exception is required for foreign nationals wishing to travel from a restricted country.

The successful, Switzerland-based client has established a pharmaceutical consultancy in New Jersey under the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa category. The E-2 Visa is one of few visa categories not suspended as part of President Trump’s so-called “immigration ban” to protect US workers from the effects of the pandemic.

While the Proclamation prohibiting entry of foreign nationals coming from the European Schengen area is still in effect, the Embassy has granted a National Interest Exception to allow the client to enter to the United States based on their strong E-2 application.

A National Interest Waiver will most likely be required for any new E-2 visa holder to be able to enter the US. That is if they come from a county that is on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention blacklist. This also applies to anyone holding an existing E-2 visa, but currently located outside of the United States and seeking to return. It is advisable for people in this position to contact their immigration attorney to discuss their specific circumstances.

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the United States for the purposes of starting or acquiring a business. The applicant must be investing enough money to support the demands of the business, and they are able to bring their family with them to America. Spouses are able to apply for work authorization outside of the E-2 business.

Only select countries are eligible for the E-2 visa. For those clients from ineligible countries, Davies & Associates offers a simple package of obtaining citizenship of an E-2 Treaty Country. The quickest and most cost-effective of these packages is via Grenada in the West Indies or Turkey.

In other recent developments, the US authorities have removed the requirement for E-2 visa applicants to have a physical office space in the United States. Until now, E-2 businesses were required to prove this as part of their application. All other requirements remain, including the need for the applicant to own at least 50% of the business and that they “develop and direct” it themselves.

Despite the Covid-19 crisis, Davies & Associates has seen an increase in E-2 visa applications. Lockdown may have prompted people to review their options and provided more time to prepare the necessary application. An E-2 application requires a strong and credible business case, which can take time to prepare.

Verdie Atienza, Head of E-2 Visa Practice at Davies and Associates said, “Preparing a strong E-2 application requires time and careful planning. To be able to position your company for the expected economic recovery due to the pandemic, prospective E-2 applicants should take advantage of the current travel restrictions to prepare a strong E-2 application. Having an E-2 application in queue will get you in the best position to come to the US to develop and direct your company at the soonest possible time.”

Davies & Associates is a US-based immigration focused law firm with corporate capabilities. The firm specializes in helping its clients set up new businesses around the world and then procuring the necessary visas to move with their family to run those businesses.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients.


E2 Mythbusters: Investment Amounts

Mark Davies, Global Chairman, Davies & Associates

MYTH: “An E2 visa requires a minimum investment of USD 200,000, USD 300,000 or more to be safe”

This is a common “myth” in E2

Our firm files hundreds of E2 Visa cases with an investment of about USD 100,000 and to date we have never had an E2 visa refusal problem. While not necessarily recommended, we have had a case approved for an investment of USD 60,000.

For a successful E2 Treaty Investor Visa application there is no minimum investment but the investment must be “substantial” in relation to the business endeavor in question. What is a reasonable and “substantial” investment for one business might not be for another.

If you already have business in the United States then no further investment may be required in order for you to obtain an E2 visa.

Applicants from India, Vietnam, South Africa, or other non-E2 treaty countries who have obtained a Grenada, Turkey, Montenegro, or other third country nationality may need to restructure existing investments in the US so they are useable for E2 purposes.


E2 Visa: You Now No Longer Need a Physical Office Space

By Sukanya Raman, Associate, D&A Mumbai Office

On July 17th 2020, the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) was updated by the United States Department of State (DOS). The updates state that an applicant need not have a physical office space to qualify for E Visa.

E-1  Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visa applicants shall benefit the most. E-1 and E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas. Under an E-1 visa, applicants of the treaty country are permitted to enter the U.S. wholly to engage in international trade. Under the E-2 visa, applicants of the treaty country are permitted to enter the U.S. by investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.

The E visa the classification has a lengthy list of requirements, a few of the  general ones are as follows:

Treaty Agreement

Nationality of E visa qualifying country

50% ownership and/or control & possession

Trade is predominantly between the United States and the treaty country

Enterprise must be real and operating a commercial enterprise

Substantial capital investment

Must be in the position to “develop and direct” the enterprise

Physical office space (no longer mandatory)

Above mentioned are a few mandatory requirements for the E visa application. However, having a physical office space is now optional to qualify for an E visa application.

E visa can now be available for businesses with virtual offices in the U.S. This gives the flexibility to  the applicants to save a huge amount of money from the substantial capital investment in leasing office space and other associated costs to it. We see a lot of clients substantial capital investment amount was invested in leasing the office premises, which they can now utilize in the business for explanation or for development, provided the other requirement of the E visas are met.

The new FAM  reads as “An applicant does not necessarily need a physical office space to qualify for an E visa.  Although having physical office space may be relevant in determining whether the requirements for an E visa have been met, it is not a requirement to qualify for the visa.”

The E-2 Visa is available to citizens of Treaty Countries. Click here to see if your country is on the list. If your country is not on the list, it is possible to become eligible by first obtaining citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. Click here to learn more about this process.

sraman@usimmigrationadvisor.com

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients.


Podcast: Comparing E2 & L1 Visas in Light of the “Immigration Ban”

The L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa was temporarily suspended last month as part of President Trump’s ongoing so-called “immigration ban”. The list of visa categories suspended through to the end of the year is now quite lengthy.

However, there are notable exemptions: The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa and the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa are not included.

In this podcast we speak to Verdie Atienza, a senior immigration attorney at Davies & Associates, to examine whether the E-2 visa may prove a possible alternative to the L-1 visa in certain cases.

Verdie heads up our L-1 and E-2 practice team and so he is well placed to compare and contrast these two visa categories. Listen in as he provides a forensic comparative analysis of both.

L-1 Visas are used to move to management-level staff from an overseas branch to the US branch of the same company. At D&A we specialize in “new-office” L-1s which is where an individual can set up a US branch of their overseas company and then move to the United States to manage that new office.

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows a person to bring their family to the United States for the purposes of running a particular business. It is necessary that your country of citizenship has a relevant treaty with the US to qualify. For those that do not initially qualify, D&A offers a two-step process whereby you first obtain citizenship of a country that does qualify, like Grenada or Turkey.

Topics covered in the podcast include:

  1. The impact of the immigration suspension
  2. Investment requirements
  3. Premises requirements in the United States
  4. Spousal Rights
  5. Children’s rights and ageing out?
  6. Visa duration
  7. Renewal process and limits
  8. Business plan requirements
  9. Nationality requirements and quotas
  10. Becoming eligible for an E-2 visa through Citizenship by Investment
  11. Transitioning to a Green Card?

This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact us to speak to an attorney.


President Trump Reverses Ban on Foreign Students Taking Online Courses

President Trump has been forced to make a U-Turn on his attempts to revoke the immigration status of international students taking online courses in the fall. Most university courses across the United States have gone online in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and many are expected to stay that way for the fall semester.

Students and their parents from around the world had been left to reconsider their education plans as a result of the president’s initial announcement.

However, a federal legal challenge by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) caused the Trump administration to rescind the policy.

Almost 400,000 F-1 student visas were issued last year. International students bring billions of dollars to the US economy in tuition fees and spending.

Many of our clients use the F-1 visa to send their children to school in the United States before transitioning to other visa categories after graduation. Some of those visas, particularly the H-1B, is currently under suspension because of President Trump’s executive order of June 2020.

However, other visa categories are not suspended. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is a relatively fast route to a US Green Card requiring a $900,000 investment. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa requires a plan to invest in and run a US-based business. As we mentioned in a previous blog posts, it is possible for parents and children to co-own the company to prevent the child from ageing out. Citizens of certain countries have to first obtain additional citizenship, often of Grenada or Turkey. This is usually a relatively straightforward process, contact us to discuss.

Both the E-2 Visa and the EB-5 Visa are exempt from the so-called “immigration ban”. A high proportion of our EB-5 clients are motivated to apply because of their children’s studies and work prospects after graduation.

Written by Duncan Hill. This blog is for informational purposes only, nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances.


E2 Visa Myth Busting: Do I have to stay in Grenada?

By Mark Davies, Global Chairman, Davies & Associates

“I have to stay in Grenada for six months to get my E2 Visa” if I use the donation route for my Grenada CBI case.

One of our clients e-mailed me this morning having been given this completely false statement, probably by a salesman selling another country’s program.

For a E2 visa the only country that has a residency requirement is the United Kingdom (which is the oldest E2 treaty). We do recommend creating connections with Grenada which is a wonderful country to visit but residency there is not required.

You can obtain an E2 visa regardless of the manner you used to obtain your Grenada passport. We have clients living in the US on an E2 investment visa to prove it.

Our Indian, Vietnamese, South African and Bangladeshi* clients have been opening business in the USA for a decade. Since about 2014 Grenada citizenship-by-investment has been a top consideration.

Prior to the new USD 220,000 share ownership program most of our clients were exclusively interested in the CBI USD 150,000 donation option.

Click here to see if your country has an E2 Treaty with the United States.

Click here to learn more about the E2 visa coupled with Citizenship by Investment.

*Although Bangladesh is an E2 country there are reasons why clients sometimes still use the Grenada route.


E-2 Visa: Worried about your Children “Ageing Out”?

Are you worried about your children “ageing out” of a family E-2 visa? Are you worried about leaving behind extended family members? We can help you solve this issue with some careful planning.

By Verdie Atienza & Sukanya Raman

If you are planning to move to America but are concerned about your child age and your extended family members to be a part of your application, we have a solution for you.

We see that a lot of Indian nationals are enthusiastic to move to America for obvious reasons like business opportunities, better standards of living, healthcare, education, etc. Though, take a step back as in most visa categories are limited to spouse and children below the age of 21 including the E-2 Treaty Investor visa.

The spouse and children may apply for E-2 derivative visas. The spouse may apply for Employer Authorization Document (EAD) to work for any US employer and the children are permitted to study.  

There are ways to structure the E-2 enterprise to address the issues of ageing-out for children and qualifying other family members. As once the children turn 21 they will cease to qualify as dependents under the E-2 Visa.

We can structure the E-2 enterprise in such a fashion that it qualifies children over the age of 21, dependent parents, unmarried siblings.

To qualify for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa, the requirement is to own at least 50% of the E-2 company to show operational control. For this reason, the E-2 company may qualify two Treaty Investors having 50-50 ownership. The child who may age-out can make an investment to acquire at least 50% of the E-2 enterprise to qualify himself as a Treaty Investor.

If the goal is to bring members of the extended family like parents or siblings, they can be made 50% owners of the E-2 company, and they may also obtain derivative visas for their spouse and dependent children as well.

In cases where there are multiple family members, two or more E-2 enterprises can be set up. With relatively low investment requirements, it should not be too difficult for foreign entrepreneurs to raise capital.

Another advantage of the E-2 option is that the E-2 enterprise may file a petition for E-2 employees who must be the same nationality as the treaty investor. The prospective employees must either be engaged in duties of an executive or supervisory character or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

Children over 21, parents, siblings, and other extended family members may potentially qualify for E-2 Employee Visas provided they have the same nationality, and they meet the requirements for employees under the treaty.

India is not a Treaty country, but with attractive Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs offered by countries that have E-2 treaties with the US like Grenada, Turkey and Montenegro, the path to the E-2 visa are clear. Compared to the investment the amount for EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and the wait time to get a green card is much longer than the E-2 Visa.

The processing time for E-2 visa is much quicker ranging from six to eight months from the date of application. Meaning, your children can start school in American from the next academic year onwards. E-2 visa is not like other non-immigrant visas. E-2 visa can be renewed indefinitely, which gives you stability and permanency. There are no country limit or quota limit under the E-2 Visa.

To conclude, below are the most well-known advantages of the E-2 visa:

1.           Quick Processing Times

2.           No Quota Limitations

3.           Relatively Less Capital Investment Needed

4.           Funds to be Invested may come from various sources

5.           Control of Investment Funds and the Treaty Enterprise

6.           You may opt for a franchise

7.           Dependents are entitled to E-2 derivative visas

8.           Flexibility with Travel

9.           Potential Tax Advantages

10.         Relatively Low Legal Costs     

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients.


Grenada Citizenship by Investment: Spouses & Single Applicants

Grenada has one of the most cost-effective citizenship by investment programs in the world. A $150,000 donation to the National Transformation Fund or a $220,000 investment in real estate leads very quickly to citizenship of a beautiful, stable, economically diverse country.

The investment route is especially popular, because it offers the chance of having the capital returned. The main investment opportunities are luxury hotel developments under construction on the island. Yet some people opt for the donation route because it better suits their own circumstances.

Unlike the investment route, the donation requirement changes depending upon the number of family members seeking Grenadian citizenship. A single applicant is required to invest $150,000. However, that increases to $200,000 if you plan to bring a spouse with you.

The extra $50,000 may be prohibitively high to some applicants. This could be the case if they are planning an E-2 investment and need capital to start-up or acquire a business in the United States.

There is a way around this. The Grenadian constitution entitles the spouse of a Grenadian citizen to Grenadian citizenship. So it is possible to apply as a single applicant, save $50,000, and arrange citizenship for the spouse at a later stage.

There is a timing issue here. Citizenship by Investment processing times are incredibly short – averaging just 45 days. If both spouses require citizenship quickly then it you should consider a dual CBI application.

However, if you are in no rush for the spouse to obtain Grenadian citizenship, you could consider the slower route. Applying for Grenadian citizenship as a spouse through the general processing route may take two years.

Such a situation might suit someone considering an E-2 application. Provided that the E-2 applicant is the same as the Grenada CBI applicant, an accompanying spouse does not need to have citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. This explains why there are small numbers of E visas granted to Indians (221 visas in 2019) and Vietnamese (19 in 2019). Neither is an E-2 Treaty Country.

Each person or family’s situation is different. It is vital to engage with an attorney to discuss the best options to suit your circumstances. The information in this blog is for illustrative purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact us directly to arrange a consultation.


E2 Visa Validity and Authorized Stay in the United States: Know the Difference

Cost of EB 5 Visa

Mark I. Davies is the Global Managing Partner and founder of our firm. Mark also Chairs our Global Business and Investor visa team and focuses his practice on EB5, L1, E2 and other business and investor visa solutions.

 

There is significant confusion as to the difference between E2 visa validity and the period of authorized stay in the United States.

What an E2 Visa Does?
A valid, unexpired, E2 visa gives you the ability to come to the US border and seek entry to the United States in E2 status.  Although an E2 visa does NOT grant the right to be inside the United States in E2 status or any other status it ordinarily results in a visa holder being lawfully admitted to the United States in E2 status.Beyond the tweet, there is very little detail on what would be covered in the executive order. Immigration is a broad concept in the United States, ranging from asylum and the rights of undocumented workers to green cards for investors under the EB-5 Visa program. Would, for example, spouses of Americans (K-1 visas) be included in a ban?

What is E2 Status
E2 status is legal status granted to individuals located in the United States who have been admitted to the United States under the terms and conditions of the E2 program or had their status changed to E2 status from another visa category.

How do I obtain E2 Status?
There are two ways to obtain E2 status:

  1. Using an E2 Visa to Seek Entry to the United States at an International Border
    When you use your E2 visa to come to a US border and seek entry to the United States the CBP officer at the border will approve or refuse your admittance into the United States in E2 visa status. Usually the officer at the border will admit the holder of a valid E2 visa holder into the United States for a period of two years of authorized stay, regardless of when the E2 visa expires.Please note that while a period of two years is usually granted on occasion CBP officers have granted a period of authorized stay of less than two years.  In addition, CBP officers often make mistakes when documenting the period of authorized stay in the US Government’s computer systems.
    Retrieve your Form I-94 here
  2. Change of Status
    If you are already in the United States in another visa status it is possible to “change status” to E2 status from within the United States.   In this way it is possible to be in lawful E2 status in the United States without ever having obtained an E2 visa.


My Authorized Stay is About to Expire but my E2 visa is still Valid?

The fact that you have a valid E2 visa is irrelevant to your period of authorized stay in the United States.  To extend your period of stay in lawful E2 status you can either:

  1. Apply for an extension of status form USCIS; or
  2. Leave the country and re-enter the US using your valid E2 visa. You will likely be given another two (2) year period of stay when you re-enter the US.

I am Inside the US and my E2 Visa has Expired
The fact that your E2 visa has expired is completely irrelevant to your period of authorized stay in the United States.  You can continue to live and work in the US until your period of authorized stay has expired.

When you next leave the United States you will need to go to a US consulate to obtain a new E2 visa renewed.  You will need a new E2 visa to re-enter the United States.

How do I know How Long my Period of Authorized E2 Stay is or if a Mistake has Been Made?
Every time you enter the US you must, within 24 hours, download a copy of your I-94 after entering the US.

Make sure the details are correct and that you have been granted a period of stay of two years.  If there is a mistake you can return to CBP at the port where you entered the US to have changes made.