Which Business is Best For an E2 Visa?

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E2 Visa Provides Foreign Entrepreneurs A Pathway to Legal Immigration

An E2 Visa may be obtained by foreign entrepreneurs from countries of origin which have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the United States. Once obtained, such E2 Visa holders (and their family) may reside in the United States for two years (and may be renewed thereafter). A purchase of a business in the U.S. may qualify for an E2 Visa so long as the subject business is ‘bonafide’ and the E2 Visa holder commits a ‘substantial’ amount of financial or human capital toward the purchase of the business. Let’s explore what kinds of business will qualify for the E2 Visa program.

Businesses Attached to Real Estate Qualify for E2 Visa

  • Common examples of businesses attached to real estate include car washes, miniature golf courses, and gas stations.
  • Often these business-real estate combinations are multi-million dollar purchases, so may not be feasible for some prospective E2 Visa holders.
  • If affordable, however, such businesses should clearly meet the threshold requirements for an E2 Visa purchase.
  • A key aspect of whether a business is deemed to be ‘bonafide’ is whether it will be in existence for the long term (at least two years).
  • This is clearly met when the business itself includes the real estate.
  • Since the E2 Visa purchaser will own the real estate, there is no risk of not obtaining a sufficient lease of at least two years in order to meet the ‘bonafide’ standard.
  • Further, the sheer size of the total purchase price (including the real estate) will easily surpass the requirement that the purchase be a ‘substantial’ amount of financial or human capital (the typical monetary threshold is about $100K).

Retail Stores with Long Term Leases Qualify for E2 Visa

Clothing and apparel stores, convenience stores, and home furnishing stores all make excellent candidates for an E2 Visa purchase. The high sales volume of such stores should clearly meet the ‘bonafide’ standard of an E2 Visa purchase. So long as the majority of sales and profits are reported on the company’s tax returns, the immigration authorities should be convinced that the store is a ‘bonafide’ enterprise and operating for the purpose of turning a profit. It is imperative that the prospective E2 Visa holder secure a long term lease with the landlord prior to the purchase. Typically, landlords of retail plazas do not have a problem extending the lease (although on more favorable terms for the landlord) because they usually want a long term tenant in place.

Smaller Retail Stores May Still Qualify for E2 Visa

For smaller retail stores with little or no employees, the E2 Visa applicant may run the store themselves, and thus commit their own human capital to the store’s operation. This is actually quite common for many smaller retail businesses, so the E2 Visa holder should be able to convince the immigration authorities that they meet the threshold of committing a ‘substantial’ amount of financial or human capital toward the purchase. With a long term lease and financials that show the store’s sales volumes and profits, a small retail shop may be the perfect business for a prospective E2 Visa holder who does not have a large budget.

Healthcare Companies Qualify for E2 Visa

In South Florida, healthcare companies are always in very high demand and make excellent investments for astute business owners or investors. Examples of healthcare companies that qualify for an E2 Visa include home healthcare companies, physical therapy centers, nurse registries, and durable medical equipment companies.  Healthcare companies typically have a large amount of goodwill (or non-tangible assets) by virtue of their valuable licenses and their ability to bill insurance carriers.  The valuable licenses and established relationships with patients or referring physicians costs a great deal of time and money, thus creating a ‘bonafide’ profit-seeking enterprise.

Some Start-Up Healthcare Companies May Also Qualify for E2 Visa

  • Some healthcare companies are start-up opportunities without any reportable sales or profits.
  • Examples of this type of opportunity (which may still qualify for an E2 Visa) include accredited home health agencies or nurse registries that have been certified by AHCA (the Agency for Healthcare Administration) to see patients but have not yet started to do so.
  • Believe it or not, such accredited agencies or registries (that have never treated any patients) still may sell for several hundred thousands of dollars.
  • This is because investors and entrepreneurs would rather pay a lump sum to obtain a certified agency or registry rather than spend many months and enormous consulting costs in order to obtain their own license and Medicare certification from AHCA.
  • These start-up healthcare opportunities may still represent a ‘bonafide’ investment because of the value of their license.
  • Further, the sheer cost of purchasing such start-ups will also meet the threshold of a ‘substantial’ business opportunity.
  • For prospective E2 visa holders with an interest or passion in the healthcare industry, purchasing such a start-up is certainly worth exploring.

Prospective E2 Visa Holders Should Consult Attorney and Business Broker

Many other businesses in other industries meets the ‘bonafide’ and ‘substantial’ requirements for an E2 Visa. For individuals residing overseas, it may seem overwhelming to go online and view the hundreds of ‘businesses for sale’ advertisements throughout South Florida. Seeking the help of a professional business broker for guidance will greatly help with this process. The business broker should be able to narrow down the prospective E2 Visa holder’s list of possible business purchases by taking note of their preferred industry, budget, and geographical area in which the business should be located. Additionally, prospective E2 Visa holders should definitely consult with an immigration attorney for help and guidance throughout the process.

Give Martin at Five Star Business Brokers of Palm Beach County a call today for a FREE evaluation of your business.

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