By Angie Rupert
It’s getting closer every day… your I-94 expires and the E2 Visa has expired. It’s time to renew the E2 visa. You have been putting it off but the time has finally arrived. Relax! There are a few things you can do to increase the chances that your E2 visa will be renewed even if your business isn’t quite as successful as you thought it would be.
- Delay the renewal. Is your visa still valid with at least one more entry? If so, it’s time to travel outside of the US. Your visa is your ticket to get into the US. But, once you come into the US, you can stay (without leaving the US) usually for up to two years. So, if your visa is still valid – even if it’s only got a couple of days left – you can travel outside of the US and come back to the US before the visa expires. From there, you should have two years to stay in the US without renewing the visa. Please note that you MUST talk to your attorney before you use this strategy. It is risky if it’s not done correctly.
- Build your case. If you were originally granted an E2 visa or status less than five years ago, use that to your advantage. The Department of State recognizes that the business must reach its financial potential “… within five years from the date [you] commence normal business activity of the enterprise.” So, if your business is less than five years old, you can show that you are continuing to work toward the projected revenues and employees. Highlight the upward trend. And, definitely include a current business plan to show that the business will continue to grow.
- Hire employees. You must. Don’t put it off. Do it now so you can show payroll records as part of the application.
- Get your finances in order. Organizing your financial paperwork is absolutely crucial for renewals. Although each consulate requires different evidence for E2 visa renewals, financial documents are universal. You will need profit and loss statements, balance sheets and taxes for at least the last two years. Make sure an accountant with access to your records puts these documents together. It’s important that someone who has years of experience reading/analyzing financial documents handles this portion.
- Show your good side. It works for Barbra Streisand, and it can work for you, as well. Highlight the portions of your business that are doing well. Maybe it’s the amount of money you have invested in the US. Maybe it’s the number of employees you hired (our net profit is low because we pay so many employees). Maybe it’s the impressive clientele who use your products/services. (As long as it’s OK with your clients/customers, it’s OK to name drop.) Figure out which parts of your business are going well and emphasize those parts.
- Speak with an attorney. This tip is so important it should probably go first. The odds of approval when using an attorney go up exponentially, so just do it! If you choose to re-hire your original attorney, give him/her a call now. They should have your original file. If you decide that it may be a better fit with another attorney, it’s not a problem. You or your new attorney can get your original file from your prior lawyer and move forward seamlessly. Whichever attorney you choose, make sure:
- He/she is a licensed attorney in some US state. Do not hire paralegals, business consultants or non-US lawyers. Honestly. None of them have the experience your need.
- He/she has successfully handled at least five E2 visas in the last six months. Your business and your life in the US may depend on their specific E2 visa experience.
- Plan ahead. The more time you have to strategize with your attorney, the better your odds for E2 visa renewal approval. You can get additional documents or clients, hire new employees and get other crucial evidence in place. Try to get the process started at least six months before renewal for the best chance to put together a winning (approvable) E2 visa renewal application.
- Drop the renewal and go for a new E2. If you have spoken with your attorney (crucial!) and the business is not salvageable, maybe it’s time to try a new business. We have helped multiple investors do this. If you aren’t sure where to start with a new business, contact Visa Franchise. They can help you discover a new business that will work with your interests, strengths and available investment funds.
Have specific questions about your E2 visa renewal? Rupert Law Group would be thrilled to help. Angie Rupert is an E2 visa attorney who focuses almost exclusively on E2 visas. She handles E2 visa applications and E2 visa renewal applications for clients all over the world. She is not only an attorney – she is a serial entrepreneur, so she understands the different obstacles you face as a US business owner. Contact Angie today for a free consultation about your E2 visa.