Are you applying for E2 visa? If YES, here is a sample template on how to write a winning business plan for E2 visa program that is immigration compliant.

What is an E2 Visa?

An E-2 Investor Visa is one that allows an individual to enter and work inside of the United States based on an investment he or she will be controlling while inside the United States. The E2 visa is usually valid for three months to five years and can be extended indefinitely if the holder wishes.

International investors seeking to migrate to the US with the goal of starting their own business may qualify for the E-2 visa. For the investor in question to qualify, he or she needs to come from a treaty country and he has to commit a ‘substantial’ amount of capital towards the business.

This essentially means that the business must have something substantial on ground before the E-2 visa is granted, and since substantial is not defined by the USCIS, in theory there is no minimum. This requirement allows the USCIS or Department of State to grant visas to those investors that are serious about their intentions and are really making a transition.

To demonstrate that all the requirements of the E-2 visa have been fulfilled, US embassies and the USCIS rely heavily on the business plan. They want you to document all your achievements as regards the business.

For most applications, a business plan is required to illustrate key aspects of the E-2 company, including what the business is going to do, how it is going to do it, and when it will accomplish its goals. While developing a business plan may seem like an intimidating idea for most people, it is a crucial step to assembling a strong E-2 application.

Also, a business plan is the best method for cultivating your business idea and developing a deep understanding of what your business is and how it will grow. E-2 visas are often granted or denied based on the quality of your business plan, as many reviewing officers (and especially USCIS) examine the plan to determine whether your business is viable and whether you are serious about running it.

What your E2 Visa Business Plan Should Show  

E2 visas are only available to citizens of countries with which the US has a treaty of commerce and navigation. Applicants must be citizens of these countries, they are not allowed to be just permanent residents.

An applicant must be able to prove that he/she has invested (or is in the proven process of investing) a substantial amount in a bona fide US business. An applicant must be able to prove that he/she is entering the US for the sole purpose of developing and directing the specific business being written about.

What Constitutes ‘Substantial’ Investment in a US Business?

For an investor to be granted the E2 visa, one of the requirements is that they make substantial investments on their business. Another way of putting it is that the USCIS requires that the investor’s capital must be at risk in a commercial sense. The investor should be able to prove that the capital was invested with the goal of making profit, and that it can be lost (completely or partially) if the investment fails.

But you should know that for an investment to be deemed substantial is usually based on context. However, there are a few general guidelines that can help an investor know know what the USCIS is looking out for. The following guidelines can help you.

  • An investment is considered substantial by the USCIS if it can be considered a significant portion of the total cost of purchasing/starting the business in question.
  • An investment is substantial if it is large enough to prove the investor’s financial commitment to the success of the business.
  • If it is enough to make it likely that the investor will be successful in his development of the business.
  • In the case of a startup, an investment must be shown to be enough to start and operate the business.
  • Although E2 visa applications have been approved and can be approved for investments of less than $100 000 if all criteria are met, a general guideline is that the E2 investment amount ought to be more than $100,000 to be considered substantial.
  • Finally, it must also be shown that the enterprise that is being invested in is actually a business. This requires proof that the business is an entrepreneurial venture that produces goods or services with the express goal of making profit. The business must not be considered marginal – i.e. it must be proven that the company is making more than is needed to support the livelihood of the applicant and his/her family.

It is also possible to prove that, while the company is not currently generating more than this amount, it has a high likelihood of doing so in the future.

How to Write a Winning Business Plan for E2 Visa Program That is Immigration Compliant

  1. Description of the Business and Executive Summary

When writing your E2 visa business plan, you have to start off with the description of the business and your executive summary. The executive summary should introduce the company, its key products and/or services, and the target market for the company’s products or services. The details of the company, such as where and when it was founded, should be included here, as well as the highlights of the company’s key projected metrics.

For E-2 purposes, it is important to focus on data points that prove your company will qualify for the visa, such as how much money it makes and how many employees it will hire (the company should make enough to hire at least three to five employees in a five-year period).

The Executive Summary provides the examiner with a snapshot of your company, and if done properly, will emphasize why you and your company qualifies for the E-2 visa. This is an essential part of the plan and it will be the first (and in some cases the only) thing the examiner reviews.

  1. Purpose of Developing and Directing the Business

Having done with the executive summary, you should now state the purpose of the business. You must prove to the reviewers that you are entering and staying in the US for the sole purpose of ensuring the success of the enterprise in which you have invested.

This can be proven if the applicant has 50% or more ownership of the venture. Alternatively, an applicant must be able to prove that he/she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business. This will have to be proven with reference to his/her managerial position within the company.

  1. Market Analysis

An E-2 compliant business plan should contain a detailed market analysis that studies the conditions of the local market in which your company will compete, identify your company’s competitors, and provide an explanation as to why your company will successfully compete in the local market.

As the data cited in the market analysis section often forms the foundation for your financial projections, it is crucial that you thoroughly develop this section, identifying competitors by name, comparing the relative strengths and weaknesses and comparing the products and business models.

This demonstrates to a reviewing officer that you understand the market that you will be competing in, as well as provides an opportunity for you to further develop an understanding for your company and the marketplace in which it will operate. The market analysis section should also contain a detailed analysis on your target market and prospective customers or clients.

The key is providing as much relevant detail as possible. If you have contacts to tap into, or meetings lined up, present them. Perhaps you already have contracts in place, or signed letters of intent, use these also. The more documents you have, the better.

  1. Marketing and Personnel Plan

Your business plan should include a comprehensive marketing plan that describes how the company will make itself known to its target market, and how it intends to engage this market to purchase its products and services. The marketing plan can include standard methods of marketing such as print advertisement commercials, as well as online marketing and the use of a website.

The important thing is that each marketing plan should be tailored to your specific business. If your consulting agency does not use ads to get clients, then it is important to describe how your company secures customers (through networking or referrals, for example).

Yet another crucial part of an E-2 compliant business plan is a comprehensive hiring plan for the next five years of the E-2 company’s operations. The E-2 visa requires that the company hire US workers and provides for more than just a living for the treaty investor and his/her family.

The plan should include a description of each position the company intends to employ, how many employees the company intends to hire, and when they intend to hire them. While there is no exact number of how many employees the E-2 company must hire, it is recommended that the company in question hires no fewer than three, and strive to hire at least three by the company’s third year of operation.

The management structure should allow you as the E-2 visa holder to develop and direct the company, with other individuals performing the skilled or unskilled labor demands of the business. You must be able to demonstrate that you will create jobs within your company for resident workers. How many US jobs will result from your enterprise, what roles will they be and when do you expect they will be created? All these questions must be answered.

  1. The Financial Plan

Your E2 visa business plan should also contain your company’s financial plan. This financial plan is the business’s projected financial statements as well as an explanation that provides a basis for the assumptions and figures in the statement. A company’s financial statements consist of a balance sheet, the profit and loss statement, and a cash flow statement.

These statements quantify the company’s history (or in this case, the company’s future) in monetary terms. They provide information that can be useful in making a determination regarding the company’s financial health and future, and are the primary means through which financial information is communicated to the reviewing officer.

It is absolutely crucial that the business plan contains a credible financial plan, as the plan’s strength depends on realistic fiscal plan. Again, the key is providing as much detail as possible as to how the financial plan was developed. This helps to strengthen the plan and also helps an examiner to better understand your business.

  1. Business strategy

The plan should provide financial projections and elaborate on how the business will achieve sufficient success and profitability to support you (the investor), your dependents and employees, and create new jobs within the duration of the E-2 visa (maximum 5 years).

It’s important to be realistic. If your application is successful, look ahead to the renewal stage (up to 5 years). When you apply to renew, you will be required to present documentation and figures that show business performance for the duration of the visa, with the expectation that you will have achieved these projections.

In the business plan, you will also need to show you have control and possession of your investment funds. This requires documentary evidence of the source of funds, with a clear paper trail, for example, sale of property or assets, savings, employment income. With no threshold or arbitrary minimum amount, the size of your investment must be considered ‘substantial’ in proportion to the total cost of the business project.

  1. Operational strategy

The Embassy will want to understand how your business will actually function in the US. There are a multitude of corporate structures permissible for securing the E-2 visa. You will need to decide which you will operate under. The management specifics of the business will also require detail. You will also be required to provide evidence that at least 50 percent of the business is owned by you, being a citizen of a treaty country.

  1. Your skills and experience

A further requirement for an E2 visa is that the business in question be related, connected or relevant to the professional experience, skills or qualifications of the E-2 applicant.

The Embassy will be seeking assurance of your credibility and capability, as well as the viability of the enterprise, and questions would arise at the interview if there is a perceived lack of synergy between your capabilities and the company’s line of work.

Developing a good business plan takes a particular expertise and you should hire a qualified professional to develop your plan. This is particularly the case if you are seeking bank financing and/or applying for an immigration petition.

Ejike Cynthia