{5:06 minutes to read} Today we’re going to talk about the E-2 visa and how it applies to franchises. As we’ve talked about in previous articles, the E2 visa allows foreign investors to set up a U.S. company, invest in that company, and obtain a visa to run the company for up to 5 years with unlimited renewals, as long as the business is functioning and creating/maintaining jobs.

There are lots of people who are trying to come to the U.S. and want to start a business. When a foreign national comes in to start a new business, the government has no idea if that business is going to be successful or create any jobs. Franchising, however, is a natural fit for the E-2 visa because the government sees a franchise as a proven system and a more reliable business model than a startup that is unknown to them.

The most important thing about a franchise is that it incorporates employees.  It can be any scale from 2 to 200, i.e. whatever number of employees are necessary for that specific location to function, to generate revenue and be successful. So once a foreign national has made the decision to purchase a franchise, they will create jobs which is the most important element of the E-2 visa application.  When they want to renew their E-2 visa, the most important factor that’s taken into consideration is whether they have or haven’t created and maintained jobs. So, the franchise is not only the great American  business model but it’s also the ideal business model for E-2 investors.

Which franchise should they select?

There are consulting firms available that help prospective franchisees. They work with individuals who are thinking about being entrepreneurs and/or franchisees. They sit and get to know the individuals:

Assess their skills and experience

– Discuss their goals

– Investigate their interests

– Research the financial picture

– Determine their preferences

Once the assessment is done, these specialized firms help point them in the right direction, finding the right fit, from skill set to investment level to the kind of support they want, and matching them with franchises that are out there and coaches them through the entire process.

Everyone knows the big franchises: McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc. What is important to point out is that there are great franchises out there that most people have never heard of, but they have phenomenal systems in place for prospective franchisees. Franchising is great for E-2 investors because of these strong and proven systems that clients are buying when they buy the franchise. The name brand really doesn’t matter. The franchise system will provide answers to:

– What’s the marketing plan?

– What about the sales plan?

– What about operations?

– What about accounting?

– How does everything work?

Franchising is a proven product. It’s been done by the home office, and it’s been done by other franchisees. Some franchises may have only 2 franchisees, while others have thousands. This means the E-2 investor has a whole support network in place to help grow their business. It also means that, since these businesses depend on manpower, jobs will be created, thus meeting the most important criteria in visa qualification.

The E-2 visa is perfect because essentially the foreign national signs a franchise agreement with the franchise of their choice, pays the franchise fee and then can choose the location where they want to reside. So if the foreign national wants to live in, let’s say Pompano Beach, Florida, or the west coast of Florida, or northern California, or the badlands of North Dakota, they can find a franchise that, having already done the research and knowing that it should be profitable, wants to expand to that area.

The most important step is to choose the right franchise through a franchise broker, and then to make sure to work with the right immigration attorney to structure the purchase and set up the business in a way that will qualify for the E-2 visa.

For questions about franchises, please e-mail: johnarmstrong@frannet.com.

For any immigration questions, please e-mail: smaggi@smalawyers.com.