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Guide to the E2 Visa for Franchise Investors

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By Sanwar Ali:


In the world of immigration and investment, the E2 visa is very popular for eligible foreign entrepreneurs looking to make their American dream a reality. Employees from treaty countries may also be able to gain entry to the US. The E2 Treaty Investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows individuals from treaty nations to reside and conduct business in the United States through a significant investment in a U.S. enterprise.

Franchises are a popular choice for E2 visa applicants. With their proven business models and strong support systems, franchises can offer a higher likelihood of success compared to starting a new business from scratch. However, can be expensive.

This comprehensive guide aims to break down the complexities of the E2 visa application process for franchise investments, providing you with invaluable insights and practical tips to navigate the journey with ease.

What is an E2 Visa?

The E2 visa permits individuals from countries that have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the U.S. to invest in a business venture in the United States. The primary purpose of this visa is to foster economic interaction and development between the U.S. and treaty nations.

The E2 visa is not a pathway to permanent residency, but it can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business continues to operate and meet E2 visa requirements.

Why Franchises?

Franchises are a popular choice for E2 visa applicants due to their established business models, operational strategies, and brand recognition. The U.S. immigration authorities often view franchises favorably as they present a lower risk of failure compared to startups or independent businesses.

Moreover, franchisors offer extensive training and ongoing support, which can be particularly beneficial for foreign investors with limited business experience or knowledge of the U.S. market.

E2 Visa Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for an E2 visa, the applicant must meet several crucial criteria:

  1. Treaty Investor Status: The applicant must be a national of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.
  2. Substantial Investment: The applicant must have invested, or be in the process of investing, a significant amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States.
  3. Active Participation: The applicant must be seeking entry into the U.S. solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by demonstrating at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
  4. Non-Marginal Enterprise: The investment enterprise must have the capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a living for the investor and their family. It should usually create jobs for US citizens or permanent residents.
  5. At Risk Funds: The capital invested must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails. However, it may be possible to put the investment money in escrow to only be transferred if the E2 visa is approved. The investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity.

Advantages of Franchises for E2 Visa

Franchise investments provide several advantages in the context of an E2 visa application:

  1. Established Business Models: Franchises come with proven business models, operational processes, and marketing strategies which can increase the likelihood of success.
  2. Brand Recognition: Investing in a well-known franchise can lend credibility to the E2 visa application, as consular officers are likely to recognize the brand and view it as a legitimate enterprise.
  3. Training and Support: Franchisors offer extensive training programs and continuous operational support, which can be especially valuable for foreign investors unfamiliar with the U.S. business environment.
  4. Professional Documentation: Franchise investments often come with professionally prepared operations manuals, marketing materials, and financial projections, which can add weight to the E2 visa application.

Potential Pitfalls of Franchises for E2 Visa

While franchises can offer significant advantages for E2 visa applicants, there are potential challenges to consider:

  1. Timing Issues: Some franchises require an extended training period before the franchise can be opened or the final purchase made. This can create delays in the E2 visa application process.
  2. Escrow Agreements: Many investors prefer to purchase an existing business through an escrow agreement to mitigate risk. However, with franchises, additional requirements from the franchisor can make using an escrow agreement problematic in meeting the irrevocable commitment requirement for the E2 visa.
  3. Control: The franchisor maintains a substantial degree of control over the franchise operation, which may limit the investor's flexibility and autonomy in running the business.

How Much Should You Invest in a Franchise for an E2 Visa?

There is no set minimum investment amount for an E2 visa. However, the investment must be substantial relative to the total cost of the business. In the context of franchises, this typically means the cost of buying the franchise, setting up the business, and operating it until it becomes profitable.

While not a requirement, using an escrow agreement can provide a layer of protection for the investor. In such cases, the investment funds are held in escrow until the E2 visa is approved. If the visa is denied, the funds are returned to the investor.

Preparing for the E2 Visa Application Process

Navigating the E2 visa application process can be complex. Here are some practical tips to prepare:

  1. Understand the Risks: Make sure you understand the risks involved in investing in a franchise and applying for an E2 visa. You may be able to reduce the level of risk by putting money into escrow to only be transferred if the visa is approved.
  2. Prepare Thoroughly: Be ready to provide detailed documentation of the source of your investment funds, your business plan, and your intent to develop and direct the enterprise.
  3. Develop a Contingency Plan: Consider what you will do if your E2 visa application is denied. Will you be able to exit the franchise agreement? What will happen to your investment funds?


Pursuing an E2 visa through a franchise investment can be a viable path to living and doing business in the United States. However, the process is complex and requires careful planning and preparation. By understanding the requirements, advantages, and potential pitfalls, you can make an informed decision and navigate the journey with confidence. helps with US Work Visa: L1, H1B, E2, and O1 Visas

There are various types of US visas that individuals can apply for, depending on their circumstances. Some of the most common employment-based visas include:

  • L1 visa: This visa is for intracompany transferees who work in managerial or executive positions or have specialized knowledge.

  • H1B visa: This visa is for specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields.

  • E2 visa: This visa is for investors who have made a significant investment in a US business and, management or essential skills employees.  Only certain nationalities can apply.

  • O1 visa: This visa is for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. is a specialist visa services firm with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. For more information and advice, please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at sends e-mail)