Over the past decade, many countries have devised new immigration policies in order to attract business talent from across the world. In theory, young and innovative entrepreneurs can try their hand at business in a foreign country and if the business is successful the added jobs benefits the host nation’s economy immensely. Attracting investments from foreign shores is nothing new. The United States also has one such immigration program for entrepreneurs, called the E-1 Treaty Traders and E-2 Investor Visa Program.
How does it work?
The United States Congress wanted to promote trade and commerce with countries from around the world. To do so, they amended that Immigration and Nationality Act to allow the nation to sign treaties with other countries to allow their citizens to come to the US and set up businesses.
E-1 Visas are targeted at non-immigrant foreign nationals. The E-1 visa is mostly for international trade purposes. Visitors must prove they have a history of substantial trade with the US and need a physical presence in the country to expand or manage this trade. Employees of foreign import or export firms who have specialized skills can apply for this visa and stay in the country for a while to take care of operations. The E-1 visa, by itself, doesn’t lead to permanent settlement, however, and may not be suitable for foreign nationals looking to secure a Green Card in the US.
For people who believe they have a great business idea and need a long term visa to help them establish it in the US, the E-2 Visa might be more appropriate. This visa is valid for 24 months and must be renewed at the end of the period for another visa granting residency permission for two more years. There is, however, no limit to how many times the visa is renewed, allowing for almost indefinite stay in the US.
The E-2 Investor Visa is available to foreign nationals from only a specific list of countries. This list of eligible countries does not include India, China, Russia or Brazil, but has over 63 other ones from where citizens can come to the US and operate a business.
Who can get it?
In short, foreign investors who want to run businesses in the United States can get an E-2 investor visa if they are able to prove they have the required skills, capital and experience.
To qualify, investors must first show that they own a meaningful stake in the business they are about to start and manage in the country. They must also prove they have enough funds to invest in the enterprise. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department decides the appropriate investment based on the nature of the business.
The authorities may also need proof to determine if the business model is reasonable and the business has a high rate of success. Anywhere from $100,000 to a million dollars could be invested in such a venture and a number of jobs must be created by the business in most cases. The department makes a decision based on the individual business’ specific nature.
The business should also, understandably, earn enough of profits to support the investor, the investor’s family and any dependents.
Immigration officials will also trace the origins of the money used for the investment. Money invested into a business must have originated from a legitimate source, such as private investors and the founder’s own private wealth. Money earned from inheritances, gifts, private loans from friends and family may also be considered if used as part of the investment fund.
The World Bank ranked the United States 7th in ease of doing business in the year 2015. The country is excellent for investing money into businesses as the access to credit is abundant and insolvency proceedings are usually more effective. Trading across borders is extremely easy with a business based in the US and trading in USD.
Furthermore, a business or subsidiary in the United States gives one access to the single largest economy on the planet. With a very stable currency and a GDP worth $17.42 Trillion, America is the mother load of all economic opportunities.
While most investment and economic growth in the nation has centered around specific cities on the East and West Coast, certain conditions are making business in the south more appealing. In recent trends, companies have been moving their money to Florida. Florida recently became the third most populous state in the U.S., surpassing New York.
Miami and other cities in Florida, like Tampa and Orlando, enjoy excellent weather and the lifestyle in the city is almost unparalleled. A vibrant and luxurious lifestyle instead of the busy streets and concrete jungle of New York has also attracted most business leaders and financial experts to this extraordinary city. The tourism sector offers other industries a chance to expand as well. As a port for the Caribbean, the city is a hotbed for trade and commerce with a number of Latin American countries.
Miami is the hub for the cultural and economic future of the region. CNN, in a report last year, called Miami one of the best cities to own a small business start-up. The growth rate for such businesses was about 6% between 2004 and 2007, and this was much higher than the metropolitan average around the nation.
There are currently over 172,000 small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, in the city. Per capita income is growing to almost $43,123, which is a couple grand above the national average per capita income. There is also a steady flow of customers as the locals and tourists keep coming back.
Then there are the tax advantages, the corporate rate of taxation in the state is a mere 5.5%, making it one of the lowest rate in the nation By locating the business in the Empowerment Zone, certain businesses can also qualify for the federal tax incentives and benefits offered by the local government.
Where to look
One of the best reasons businesses can set up easily in the city of Miami is the abundant real estate here. Office spaces and commercial properties are everywhere.
Earlier in the decade the region saw a very massive construction boom which resulted in a lot of new builds coming up very quickly. These buildings are now being used as workspaces which help to foster startups and entrepreneurs around the city.
A lot of the local population still lives in the areas of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, but things are moving out of these two areas gradually. The newly established Technology Park by the University of Miami is one such example. Business experts suggest that over time new jobs will be created in biosciences and technology research related fields.
Miami is a popular destination for many foreign migrants who come looking for work. Immigrant workers usually come from the Caribbean, South America, Cuba and Haiti. This means the city is a hub of cultural and traditional diversity.
This diversity comes as a blessing for local businesses. Not only is hiring people easier since the labor market is so rich, but the customer base is also remarkably diverse. The businesses that can offer services to different people and in different languages are often the most successful enterprises in the city.
Another positive for local businesses is the influx of students here in Miami. The students come from all over the nation and many different countries across the globe. The young and vibrant feel of the city is great for attracting people to come and learn at some of the finest universities in the country.
Getting help with business
The city of Miami has made it easy for entrepreneurs to get assistance with their management of new businesses. There are a ton of ways new businesses are provided with the resources they so desperately need when just starting out.
There is the Neighbors and Neighbors Association, The Beacon Council, and the Women’s Business Development Center in the city. These centers help people with all their business needs.
The website for the Miami-Dade County Department for Small Business is a wonderful resource for mid sized firms. There are always opportunities to work for the county that are offered to new businesses. The Score Miami Business Plan Consulting is another way to get help managing a new business, while the Florida Small Business Development Center Network offers some great networking opportunities to risk taking entrepreneurs.
Getting Help Relocating
The United States is ranked no.7 in a list of countries put together by the World Bank Group for ‘ease of doing business’, but this doesn’t make getting an E-1 or E-2 Visa and relocating to Miami easy.
Immigration, unfortunately, is a very complex procedure. If you have decided to move to the US and settle to establish your business in Miami, you may have to consult an immigration lawyer to walk you through all your options and legal requirements.
Moving to another country is always a major, life changing decision and could involve a lot of paperwork. The paperwork involved in emigrating usually overwhelms most people. A well-trained and experienced lawyer could help make things easier.
Consulting a lawyer with local experience may also be ideal. A lawyer based in Miami may be familiar with not only federal and state laws but also the best practices while doing business in the city.
The opportunities in this country are endless and the environment for commerce in Miami is great. With the right sort of help and support, you can relocate to firmly ground a new business in no time.