For some entrepreneurs the thrill is in improving an existing company, rather than starting a new business from scratch. Purchasing an existing US business can be a great strategy for getting a US visa, especially E-2 and L-1A visas.
Purchasing an existing business makes the application process for a visa fairly smooth. Existing businesses have much of the paperwork in place that you would otherwise look to create when filing a visa application, including:
- Tax returns
- Employee payroll
- Articles of incorporation
- Lease for commercial space
In addition, existing companies have data that is helpful when filing a visa, including:
- Gross and net revenue
- Employee headcount
For the purposes of an E-2 visa, if you are purchasing an exiting business it is very easy to demonstrate the value of the business, the income you will likely earn from that business, and the opportunity for growth. The only issue to beware of when purchasing a business and pursuing an E-2 is ensuring that the business has sufficient revenue to guarantee you an income. If the business only generates $20,000 in profit, even if it employs ten people, it may be a bad business to purchase. For a successful E-2 petition, I would recommend purchasing a business that generates at least $50,000 in profit per year. If the business generates less profit, you should be prepared to explain how your investment will help grow the business and its profitability.
For the L-1A visa you must already own a company outside the US. If you own a company outside the US and you supervise employees in that business, purchasing a new business in the US that has employees will qualify for an L-1A. If you own at least 50% of both the US and foreign businesses there is sufficient common ownership to qualify for the L-1A visa.
One last consideration when purchasing a business is whether the purchase would qualify for an EB-5 green card. The first question is whether the purchase price meets the investment threshold of $500,000 or $1,000,000 depending on the location of the business. The second question is whether your investment will generate 10 new full-time jobs.