How Should You be Preparing for your E2 Visa While the World Waits?

It’s true – these are unprecedented times.  However, time at home can be well spent if you are in the E2 visa process. Here is an overview of things you can be working on while you are at home.  For smart investors, now is the time to work while the rest of the world is waiting.  If you play it right, you could be ready to move forward with the application and interview just in time for the consulates to re-open to non-immigrant visa interviews.  (NOTE – If you are currently in the United States and have no work authorization, speak with your immigration attorney before taking the following steps.)

Just Getting Started

If you are just getting started in the E2 visa process, there is still plenty to do.

  1. Determine which business entity is best for you. You can do online research regarding the different types of corporate formation.  In addition, you can speak with a business attorney in the state where you plan on doing business.  This attorney or accountant can do a phone consultation with you regarding the different options and tax/liability issues with each.  From there, you can determine which formation option is best for you.
  2. Register your company. You can still get an LLC or an Incorporation.  Most states will take online filings.  Alternatively, your attorney or accountant can do this for you.
  3. Get your EIN number. This is done through the IRS.  You can do it online or have your corporate attorney or accountant do this.
  4. Open a corporate bank account. Banking is considered an “essential business,” and banks are still open in the United States. Therefore, you can open a corporate bank account.  In most cases, banks will require you to show up at the bank in person, but there are “workarounds.” We regularly work with an attorney who has helped clients outside of the US get corporate bank accounts. This is definitely possible!

Phase Two

If you have done all of the above, you are likely in the “second phase” of the E2 visa process.  Usually, this means that you are actually purchasing the business OR you are setting up the business you are launching.  If this is where you are at in the process, you can do the following.

  1. Negotiate the purchase. If a seller is looking to sell a business, now is the time to do negotiations.  Depending on the business, it may be a great time to negotiate the prices, timing of payments, or other deal points.  Speak with your corporate attorney or broker about that.
  2. Find an office to lease. Even if you are not in the United States, it’s possible to start researching office locations.  At this time, office tours aren’t even allowed in some US states.  That said, the office managers are at work – likely working from home.  Call or email and set up a “virtual tour.”  You can do several of these “virtual tours” to get a sense of what office may work best for you. If you find one you like, request a lease via email.
  3. Locate a supplier of inventory or equipment. If you are setting up or purchasing a business that requires inventory or equipment, now is a great time to locate a supplier.  Remember that most offices are still operating – it’s just that some (or all) of the employees (or all) are working from home.  Email or call them and let them know what you need.  Even if they aren’t manufacturing the inventory or equipment today, they can talk to you about orders/pricing/etc.  In addition, you may be able to get a deal by ordering during this slow time.
  4. Locate service vendors. If you are planning on operating a services business, you can reach out to vendors. Maybe you need help marketing your business.  Maybe you need a company to service your machines or equipment.  Maybe you need a certain software in order to operate your business. Most of these types of businesses are working.
  5. Start interviewing potential employees. Although you may not quite be ready to hire employees, but there’s no reason not to start searching.  Put up an add and do a video zoom interview or two.  There are many people who are looking for a new career at this time, which means that you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to quality candidates.

My E2 Business is Running and I’m Waiting for the Interview

If your business is already operating, it may be a good time to figure out how to run your business more efficiently while you wait for the E2 interview.  In most cases, this period of time will be 2-6 weeks, but in this time of uncertainty, it’s taking longer for E2 interviews.  Although inconvenient, there are plenty of things you can do while you wait for the visa interview. (NOTE – If you are in the United States and don’t have the E2 visa, you don’t have authority to work. Please do not violate any immigration laws while you wait.)

  1. Confirm if your business is considered “essential.” At the moment, each state in the United States is working a bit differently. Some are more controlled than others, but each state has certain “essential” businesses.  These are businesses that are still open and running (almost) as normal.  Some of these “essential” businesses aren’t so intuitive (hair salons, for example, are essential in Arizona). If your business is considered essential, you can operate.
  2. Speak to your immigration attorney. If you have a business that may be able to pivot a bit to handle the current trends, you may be able to add another service or target another geographic area.  NOTE – IT IS CRUCIAL TO SPEAK WITH YOUR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY BEFORE YOU DO THIS.

Overall, there is still plenty to do.  We are seeing already in other countries that this period will be rather brief; so be prepared and use your “free” time wisely!  When we all come out of this, you could be ready for the E2 visa.

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