Layoff on H1B? E2 visa may be the best bet to stay in the U.S.

Recent articles highlighting the recent tech avalanche of layoffs, mainly within the tech sector, have sent many workers on H1B visas scrambling.  The reality for many is that they will not find another job offer and will need to return to their home countries.

If you fall into this category, or feel that you may soon fit into this category – great news!  There is an alternative to the H1B treadmill. Now is the time to take control of your future an apply for an E2 visa.  An E2 visa allows the visa holder to live and work in the United States indefinitely and requires no additional sponsorship.  There are no per-country limits, there are no lotteries and there the process takes less than one year.

In order to meet the requirements of the E2 visa, you must have a passport from a treaty country.  It is irrelevant where you were born or where you live (with the exception of those applying with a U.K. passport).  The only concern is your valid passport.  If you are a dual citizen, you can choose which passport to use.

The second requirement is an investment of a substantial amount of capital into the U.S. entity.  There is no dollar figure outlined in any regulation or statute, but most attorneys will tell you that even the most simple business will require at least $100,000 USD investment before you apply at the consulate.

The business must be “real and operational” and must not be “marginal.”  This means that the business should have at least two customers/clients OR two days of retail operations.  In addition, you must show (through a business plan) that the business will make enough money to pay you and several U.S. employees by the end of five years.  (There are no minimum number of employees you must have.)

Any business is possible with the E2 visa.  You can start a brand new business or buy an existing business.  You can choose a franchise (new or existing).  Almost any business is possible.  We recommend the following:

  1. The business should be legal
  2. The business must not have the tax designation of “non-profit”
  3. The business should be able to support at least one U.S. employee at the time of application
  4. The business should be able to show at least two U.S. clients or customers at the time of application
  5. You should be enthusiastic about running this business

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