Despite exaggerated claims about its demise, the "American Dream" still lives on in the hearts and minds of the foreign-born individuals and families who have flocked to the United States over the years in search of an opportunity to improve their lives. The United States is home to more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, as shown in the chart below, an estimated 48.2 million people that are currently living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants.
The population of immigrants living in the United States is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented. Crucially, for U.S. economic growth, these immigrants are disproportionately more likely to start their own business than native-born citizens. Despite accounting for only about 13 percent of the population, immigrants now start more than a quarter of new U.S. businesses. Many of the fastest-growing and most successful businesses in the U.S. are immigrant-owned, with over 20% of the CEO's of INC 500 companies being immigrants. These success stories are a beacon of hope to immigrants all over the world who dream of coming to the U.S. to join the ranks of U.S. immigrant billionaires such as Sergey Brin, Thomas Peterffy, Elon Musk and Micky Arison who came to the U.S. in relative poverty and through their hard work and ingenuity were able to elevate themselves to become some of the richest businessmen in the world.
The most popular U.S. visa for investors and executives looking to do business in the United States is the E-2 Treaty Investor visa, with between 40,000 and 50,000 E-2 visa applications being made each year. The chart below, taken from a recent report by the Government Accountability Office on the E-2 visa route, shows the number of issuances and refusals for each of the years from 2014 to 2018 for each of the four potential roles for foreign nationals seeking E-2 status. These four roles are:
The fiscal year 2018 refusal rate is depicted in the table above as a range because it is subject to change until the end of fiscal year 2019. Any application adjudicated in fiscal year 2018 may require the applicant to submit additional information to demonstrate eligibility for an E-2 visa. In such cases, the application is refused under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 221(g). In the range, the maximum refusal rate includes all INA 221(g) refusals, and the minimum refusal rate is the rate that would exist if all applications refused INA Section 221(g) were later overcome and issued.
The table above shows that the number of E-2 visa refusals since President Trump took office in January 2017 has increased significantly.
As the table shows, the reason that is being increasingly cited with these refusals is that the documentation, including the E-2 visa business plan, is inadequate. Anyone looking to be successful in applying for their E-2 visa must make doubly sure that their application clearly establishes that you meet all of the E-2 visa requirements, providing all of the information that USCIS needs to make an adjudication.
One of the most challenging requirements for an E-2 visa applicant is demonstrating that the amount of money irrevocably committed to the E-2 visa project is "substantial". A myth has firmly established itself in the collective conscience of the business immigration industry that E-2 investors require a minimum of $100,000 in order for their visa application to be successful. This myth needs to be dispelled as it has caused countless otherwise qualified entrepreneurs to give up on the E-2 visa route before they have even started. The remainder of this article aims to put that myth to bed once and for all and show that there is no minimum investment requirement for the E-2 visa other than showing that you have the minimum amount of money required to successfully run the company.
The chart below, taken from the same report by the Government Accountability Office on the E-2 visa route that we referred to earlier, shows that whilst the majority of the applicants that they surveyed (based upon a representative sample of all E-2 visa investor applications from 2018) did invest over $100,000, 30% did not and a small percentage (1%) invested less than $50,000.
Those findings correlate perfectly with our own experience with E-2 visa applications. We have worked with several clients that have invested between $50,000 and $90,000 and been successful in obtaining their E-2 visa. That was also my own experience when I was issued with a five year E-2 visa having made a total investment of just under $80,000. As you can see below, I was ultimately successful in my efforts despite investing less than the mythical $100,000.
I largely attribute the success of my application to the comprehensive, USCIS compliant business plan I submitted in support of my application. I also applied once the business had been trading successfully for a year and had become profitable, so the visa officer did not have to guess if the lower amount would be sufficient to establish the business as the business was already fairly established at the time of the application.
Ultimately, I understand why the myth of the $100,000 minimum investment came to take hold as immigration attorneys have to offer some general guidelines to potential clients considering the E-2 visa route and once educated industry insiders have expressed an opinion, this opinion is can easily morph into a hard and fast rule in the minds of potential applicants. There is also an element of truth captured in the £100,000 minimum myth. If I had to offer a general rule with regards E-2 investment, it would be the larger the investment, the greater the chance of the application being successful. An investment of $100,000+ will stand a better chance of being approved for E-2 purposes, all other things being equal, than an investment that is less than $100,000, especially when the business in question is young and has not yet proven that the money invested is or will be sufficient.
Since an E2 visa petition has very stringent requirements, it is critically important that the E-2 visa business plan is written by a professional business plan writer who is familiar with business immigration rules. A well-written business plan is a key document in demonstrating to USCIS that your E-2 Visa petition meets the criteria for approval. At Continuous Business Planning, we understand the USCIS’s E-2 visa requirements intimately. Not only have we created dozens of E-2 Visa compliant business plans for clients but I have successfully been through the application process myself. Don't be one of the increasing number of applicants whose application is refused due to inadequate documentation, Choose to work with a specialist visa business plan writing agency that understands the difference between a traditional business plan and an E-2 Visa business plan.
Trust Continuous Business Planning to provide you with a comprehensive, professionally written E2 Visa Business Plan that helps you to achieve your goal of living and working in the United States. The business plan we create with you will exceed the USCIS requirements for supporting evidence and will provide you with the insight you need to hit the ground running in your business as you start to live your American dream. Nobody will work harder for your visa success! For a free, no-obligation initial consultation, contact us today.