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Unlocking the American Dream: Buying a Franchise for an E2 Visa

The allure of the American Dream has always been strong, beckoning hopeful entrepreneurs from across the world. The idea of setting up a business in the U.S. can seem daunting, but there’s a clear and potentially viable path forward: leveraging franchise opportunities to obtain the E2 Treaty Investor visa (a.k.a. simply “E2 Investor Visa”)

One of the most effective ways to secure this visa is by investing in a franchise business. Here’s a helpful breakdown of why buying a franchise might just be your ticket to life and business in the USA.

Prepare for a long-winded—but as complete as possible—explanation!

franchising and e2 visas--the pefect pair?

The E2 visa: A quick overview

The E2 Treaty Investor Visa is a unique U.S. immigration option designed for foreign entrepreneurs and investors.

Tailored for nationals from countries that have a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the United States, this visa allows individuals to enter, reside, and work in the U.S. based on a significant investment they make in a U.S. business. This investment should be substantial relative to the total cost of the business, ensuring the investor’s commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise.

One of the distinguishing features of the E2 visa is that it’s not set with a fixed minimum investment amount. Instead, the emphasis is on the nature of the investment, requiring it to be “at risk” and geared toward generating a profit.

Foreign investors must also play an active role in the business, either through ownership or a managerial position, ensuring they are genuinely contributing to the U.S. economy.

While the E2 visa provides an avenue for business-minded individuals to pursue their American dream, it’s essential to note that it’s a non-immigrant visa. This means it doesn’t offer a direct path to permanent U.S. residency or citizenship. However, it does grant an initial stay of up to two years, with opportunities for indefinite extensions as long as the business remains operational and meets visa requirements.

E2 visa franchise process—in simple terms

The E2 visa process is by no means a simple endeavor. Nevertheless, here’s a simple breakdown of what to expect:

  1. Figure out which business is suitable for you
  2. Meet with your franchisor of choice and follow their process
  3. Acquire legal representation
  4. Prepare an effective business plan
  5. Finalize arrangements and investment with the franchisor
  6. Apply for your E2 visa with everything you’ve accomplished thus far

To add a bit more detail:

The process begins by selecting a franchise that aligns with the individual’s interests and investment capabilities. Once a suitable franchise is identified, the potential investor engages in negotiations, ensuring they understand the franchise’s business model, financial obligations, and operational guidelines.

After finalizing the franchise agreement and making the required investment, the investor can then proceed to compile the necessary documentation to demonstrate the legitimacy of their investment. This includes the franchise agreement, proof of funds transfer, business plans, franchise fees, and any other related documents showcasing their commitment to the enterprise.

The next step involves applying for the E2 visa itself. With the help of an immigration attorney, the investor submits the E2 visa application, emphasizing their substantial investment in the franchise and their intent to play an active role in its operation.

The U.S. embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country will then schedule an interview to evaluate the application’s eligibility according to immigration law. If approved, the E2 visa provides the franchisee the opportunity to reside in the U.S. and oversee their own business venture, opening doors to both personal and professional growth in the American market.

Key considerations of an E2 visa

If you’re considering obtaining an E-2 visa through a franchise investment, here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Treaty Country: The investor must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. You can check the U.S. Department of State’s website to see if your country qualifies.
  2. Substantial Investment: The investor must have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the U.S. While there’s no specific minimum amount, the investment must be significant relative to the total cost of the business.
  3. At Risk: Your investment must be at risk for the purpose of generating a profit. This means you must be close to starting the business or it should already be in operation.
  4. Bona Fide Enterprise: The U.S. business must be a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking that produces services or goods for profit.
  5. Ownership or Control: You must have control of the funds and the investment. This typically means business owners need at least 50% of the enterprise’s operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
  6. Intent to Depart: You must intend to leave the U.S. upon the termination of your E-2 status. However, the visa can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business remains operational and meets E-2 requirements.
  7. Job Creation: While not strictly mandatory, it’s beneficial if your investment leads to the creation of jobs for U.S. workers.

Now let’s examine a few of the advantages and disadvantages of acquiring a franchise.

Ups and downs of going the franchise route

So an E2 visa allows nationals from treaty countries to invest in a new business or an existing business and live there to oversee and develop it—and having a franchise agreement falls under those conditions.

It’s an avenue not just for big-time investors, but also for small to medium-sized business enthusiasts. Here’s where buying a franchise may or may not be the best business plan.

Advantages of Opting for a Franchise

  • Proven Business Model: One of the top perks of investing in a franchise type of business is that it’s a proven model. Instead of navigating the rough waters of starting from scratch, you’re given a roadmap to success.
  • Support & Training: Franchisors often provide extensive training and ongoing support, ensuring that you’re well-equipped to operate in the English-speaking U.S. market. This backing can be invaluable for newcomers to the business landscape.
  • Stronger Visa Application: A recognized franchise can bolster the credibility of your E2 visa application. Immigration officials can see that your investment is legitimate and has a high likelihood of success.

The Other Side: Some Considerations

  • Initial Costs: While the best franchises offer a streamlined business model, they can come with substantial initial fees. It’s crucial to thoroughly research and ensure that the investment is feasible and promising.
  • Ongoing Royalties: Franchisees typically pay ongoing royalties to the franchisor. It’s a cost of doing business that you’ll need to factor into your financial plans.
  • Limited Flexibility: As a franchisee, you’ll need to adhere to the franchisor’s guidelines, which might limit creative or operational freedom. While this provides consistency, it can sometimes feel restrictive.

Always think carefully about the merits of an e2 investment involving a franchise before diving in fully.

Fibrenew has a proven track record with E2 applications

The decision to buy a franchise as a pathway to an E2 visa is significant. When making this choice, consider your passions, your business acumen, and the kind of support you’re seeking.

Thankfully, we at Fibrenew have successfully brought on many new members of our franchise family utilizing the E2 visa path.

Every situation is unique, but getting in touch with us to see what the options are is the best way to get the ball rolling. Bon voyage!


E-2 Visa FAQ

What exactly is an E-2 visa?

The E-2 visa, often referred to as the “Treaty Investor Visa,” allows nationals from certain treaty countries to invest in a business in the U.S. and live there to manage and oversee that investment.

Which countries are eligible for the E-2 visa?

The U.S. has treaties with a variety of countries that allow their nationals to apply for the E-2 visa. The list can change over time, so it’s essential to check the U.S. Department of State’s current list of treaty countries.

How much do I need to invest for the E-2 visa?

There isn’t a fixed minimum amount, but your investment should be “substantial.” It means the investment should be enough to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise and be proportionate to the total cost of the business.

Can I buy a franchise to qualify for the E-2 visa?

Absolutely! Purchasing a franchise can be an excellent way to meet the E-2 visa requirements, provided the investment is substantial and you’ll be actively involved in the business.

Do I have to live in the U.S. once I get the E-2 visa?

The primary purpose of the E-2 visa is to allow you to live in the U.S. to manage and oversee your investment. While you aren’t required to stay continuously, frequent or extended absences might raise questions about the actual management of your enterprise.

How long can I stay in the U.S. on an E-2 visa?

Initially, you can stay for up to two years. However, you can request extensions, and there’s no limit on how many extensions you can get. As long as your business remains operational and continues to meet E-2 requirements, you can stay.

Can my family accompany me if I get the E-2 visa?

Yes! Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 can join you in the U.S. under E-2 derivative visas. Plus, your spouse can apply for work authorization once in the U.S.

I have a tourist visa (B-2). Can I change it to an E-2 while in the U.S.?

In many cases, it’s possible to change your status from B-2 (or other visa categories) to E-2 without leaving the U.S. However, it’s essential to consult with an immigration attorney to ensure you meet the requirements and handle the process correctly.

Does the E-2 visa lead to a green card?

The E-2 visa is non-immigrant, which means it doesn’t provide a direct path to permanent residency (a green card). However, while in the U.S., you might become eligible for other paths to a green card, depending on your circumstances.

Where can I apply for an E-2 visa?

You typically apply for an E-2 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. The process involves filling out a DS-160 form, providing supporting documentation, and attending an interview.

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Meet the author

Jesse Johnstone

As the President of Fibrenew, I have the privilege of working with an exceptionally talented team at Head Office and in the field with our franchisees. Witnessing the achievements of our Franchise Partners in their businesses is a source of deep fulfillment and gratification.

See other posts by Jesse Johnstone