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Top 5 Best Businesses to Invest in for E2 Visa 

For the E2 visa, you can buy an existing business as a way to meet the minimum investment amount. In this article, we share the top 5 best businesses to invest in for an E2 visa, and how to find businesses for sale.
Lower shots of business man seated, with one pointing to tablet screen,.

The E2 visa gives entrepreneurs from treaty countries the chance to invest in or start a business in the US. This non-immigrant visa allows you to reside and work in the US if you meet the E2 visa requirements and investment criteria. Whether you’re looking to start a business from the ground up or purchasing an existing one, the E2 visa can be an excellent way to relocate to the US. 

In this article, we’ll explore the top five E2 visa businesses and guidance on how to find E2 businesses for sale. We also share some tips on how to build an E2 visa business plan.

What is the E2 visa?

Business man standing with arms crossed in office.

The E2 visa, commonly referred to as the “treaty investor visa,” allows people from specific countries to live and work in the US if they make a substantial investment in a US business. You can meet the E2 visa requirements by either investing in an existing business, starting a business, or buying an existing business.

E2 visa requirements 

In order for a business to meet the E2 visa requirements, the business must check off the following criteria:

  • The investment in the business must be considered “substantial”, which typically means an investment of at least $100,000. However, it depends on the nature of the business
  • The business must be at least 50% owned by citizens of the treaty country
  • The E2 business needs to be active and for-profit
  • The business must be formally established  (i.e. sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation)
  • The business will need to produce more than enough income to support you and your immediate family
  • The business can support additional employees, at least within a 5 year time horizon
  • Your E2 business plan must show the future growth of your business

One thing to know about the E2 visa requirements is that they are quite flexible! For example, the E-2 minimum investment amount isn’t well defined and depends on your selected type of business. The rule of thumb is that the investment amount is substantial and can support your business for at least 1 year

This is where hiring an experienced E2 visa lawyer can be really helpful. At Manifest Law, our immigration lawyers have helped thousands of clients invest, buy, or start businesses to qualify for the E2 visa. 

Schedule a free consultation to get more information and find out if you are eligible.

Now that we’ve covered the E2 visa requirements, let’s look at the top businesses you can invest in, to qualify for the E2 visa.

Best businesses for an E2 visa

1. Franchises

Woman business owner standing in cafe holding a paper with arms crossed, representing franchise for e2 business.

Franchises are one of the most compelling business options for the E2 visa. Here are a few reasons why they typically meet the E2 visa qualifications:

  • Ready-made E2 visa business plan and clear growth strategies
  • Proven business models and product-market-fit
  • Established brands recognized by a USCIS officer
  • “Turnkey”, making it easier to launch your business
  • Lower risk alternative compared to starting a business from scratch

Moreover, franchises typically engage in market research before opening a new location. This helps streamline the process of determining the optimal location for your business.

Given that franchises can be established nearly anywhere, be it a bustling metropolitan city or a quaint town, you gain greater flexibility in choosing where you want to live and work within the US.

Franchises cover a wide variety of industries, from fast food restaurants to retail and pet care. According to Franchises Direct, the top 5 US franchises for 2024 include The UPS Store, Budget Blinds, Kitchen Tune Up, Ace Handyman Services, and Anago Cleaning Services. 

2. Consulting services

Young business man explaining something to another person, with coffee cups on table. Example of consulting business for e2 visa.

For people with existing professional experience in a service industry, setting up a consulting business for the E2 visa is a great option. Here’s why:

  • Low upfront costs
  • Minimal overhead costs
  • Build on existing market expertise 

This type of business can also cover a wide variety of skill sets, whether that’s setting up a business for marketing consulting, software development, or interior design. 

Unlike businesses that require significant initial investments in inventory, equipment, or physical infrastructure, a consulting firm typically relies solely on the expertise of you as an individual.

Just remember, you still need to prove that your business meets the requirements for the E-2 visa minimum investment required.

Another key benefit is that consulting services usually don’t require a physical location. This flexibility allows you to operate the consulting business remotely without the need for a brick-and-mortar establishment. This is especially beneficial if you prefer a location-independent lifestyle or want to explore different regions within the U.S.

3. Restaurants and cafes

Interior design of restaurant business for e2 visa.

Restaurants and cafes are some of the most common businesses for the E2 visa. Some key advantages include:

  • Clearly meets the “active business” requirement, since they require ongoing operations
  • Involves staffing for multiple roles, helping to meet the E2 visa requirements for job creation
  • Can specialize in a niche related to your home country, such as a regional cuisine 

Restaurants and cafes usually meet the “active business” requirement for the E-2 visa. These businesses have ongoing and dynamic operations, like daily food preparation, customer service, and management activities. Furthermore, restaurants can easily meet the E-2 visa’s job creation requirements. You’ll need to hire employees ranging from chefs and kitchen staff, to waiters and managers.

Manifest Tip: If you are looking to hire workers from your own country, you can make a case that your foreign employees have unique and essential skills about the cuisine. In this case, they could gain the ability to work and live in the US under E-2 status!

The E2 business plan for a restaurant is usually much simpler to build compared to other types of businesses. And, the E-2 visa minimum investment requirement can be met with a relatively small investment. 

Many of our clients seeking established E2 visa businesses find restaurant and hospitality opportunities easier than other industries.

4. Tech startups

Two young men smiling, seated at desk looking at laptop. Representing e2 visa business of tech startup.

If you have an idea for a new technology, product, app, or service, starting a tech company in the US could be a great option for getting an E2 visa. Tech startups can meet the E2 visa requirements for some of the following reasons:

  • High growth potential, meeting the job creation and economic impact requirements
  • Flexibility of remote working which gives more location freedom for working in the US
  • Access to fundraising opportunities in the US

The US is known for its robust venture capital and startup ecosystem, offering fundraising opportunities for tech entrepreneurs. Access to more capital can accelerate the growth trajectory of the business, which can add to the viability of the business for the E2 visa requirements.

As we’ve previously mentioned, one key requirement for the E2 visa is showing the business will create more jobs in the US. Tech startups have the capacity to create employment opportunities across a variety of roles, including software development, marketing, sales, and managerial positions. Showing that you can, and will, need to hire across all job functions can be helpful for an E2 visa application.

Another point about tech startups is that they don’t always require a physical office. This can not only give you more flexibility in choosing where to live and work in the US, but also where you source talent from.

For instance, you can choose to hire software engineers from the Bay Area, support agents located in Texas, and accountants in New York.

5. Manufacturing businesses

Warehouse of a manufacturing e2 visa business with male workers.

Lastly, establishing a manufacturing business in the US is a solid option meeting the E2 visa requirements. Here are some reasons why this type of business can be ideal:

  • Typically involves substantial investment in machinery, equipment, and facilities, which helps meet the E2 minimum investment amount
  • Tangible assets such as the machinery, inventory, and real estate show that the investment is legitimate 
  • Plays a crucial role in contributing to the economy by producing goods
  • Usually requires employees and clear job creation

As you can see, many aspects of starting and running a manufacturing business meet the E2 visa requirements by nature. 

The tangible assets needed from the start often satisfy the E2 minimum investment amount, plus they contribute to the legitimacy of the investment in the business.

And, the production of goods from the business contributes to the local economic activity, which is another important factor USCIS is looking for.

Manufacturing businesses are also active businesses that typically require a workforce for various roles, from production and quality control to management and administration. Clearly outlining the number and types of jobs created, along with the positive impact on the local job market, can really enhance your E-2 visa application.

Buying a business to meet the E2 minimum investment 

Hundred dollar bills for e2 visa business investment.

Aspiring entrepreneurs may find starting a business for the E2 visa an exciting opportunity. However, some people with a lower risk appetite may consider buying an existing business that already meets the E2 visa requirements. 

When buying a business, a “substantial” investment amount should be proportional to what your business needs, which varies based on the business.

It should be enough money to show that you’re fully committed to developing the business.

Example: A manufacturing business, such as an automobile manufacturer, might easily cost many millions of dollars to either purchase or operate the business.  On the other hand, the cost to purchase an existing consulting firm may be $100K+. Both could be considered “substantial” investments.

The US government uses a proportionality test to ensure that the investment size meets the needs of the business. It’s important to know that there’s no fixed percentage, as each case is evaluated separately. 

Now, if you are buying an existing business for an E2 visa, typically the cost is usually its purchase price (fair market value).

Usually, you need to prove the cost of the business through providing a business plan or detailed analysis showing how much it costs to buy the business. Then, you can compare this amount with your total investment in the business to help check if it would be considered substantial or not.

How to find businesses for sale

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the best businesses that meet E2 visa requirements, let’s explain how you can find a business for sale. 

Finding E2 visa businesses for sale is actually easier than you may think!

There are a few different ways you can kick off your search:

  • Search online business marketplaces: Websites like BizBuySell, BizQuest, and BusinessBroker are popular online marketplaces for buying and selling businesses 
  • Connect with a business broker: Business brokers are the people that connect business sellers with potential buyers. They can even assist you through the whole buying process
  • Check local newspapers and classified ads: Look through the business sections of newspapers or check Craigslist in the US. Some owners use these more traditional ways to advertise their business for sale
  • Get help from a professional: Another option is to connect with our team at Manifest Law. We have a network of brokers and business owners we could connect you to, and lawyers to help you with the process

How Manifest Law can help you

Whether you are starting a new venture or acquiring an existing business, it’s essential to make sure the business meets the specific criteria set by USCIS and qualifies as a substantial investment.

When looking for E2 visa businesses for sale, it’s crucial to conduct due diligence, including financial analysis, market research, and legal review. Our experienced E2 visa lawyers at Manifest Law can help you with the due diligence process and assist you in filing your application. 

Reach out to our team today to explore your options and determine the best business for your goals.

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