Buy a franchise and settle down in the USA

USA Passport Immigration

U.S. Immigration has two main categories: permanent residence visas (also called “immigrant visas” or “green cards”) and temporary residence visas (also called “non-immigrant visas”).

The easiest way to explain how you can live and work in the U.S. is to give a summary of U.S. immigration law. This is the “big picture.” Once you see all of the possibilities, it can help you decide which option will work best for you.

U.S. Immigration has two main categories: permanent residence visas (also called “immigrant visas” or “green cards”) and temporary residence visas (also called “nonimmigrant visas”).

1. Permanent Resident Visas (Green Cards)

A permanent resident visa, or green card, is normally what people want, because it permits PERMANENT residence in the U.S. A person with a green card can generally live anywhere in the U.S. and can work for anyone without restriction. But, a green card is difficult to get.

There are four main ways to get a green card:

      • Family sponsored green cards
      • Employment based green cards
      • Green card lottery (diversity green card),
      • Political Asylum.

How to qualify for a permanent resident visa in the USA

To qualify for a family sponsored green card, you must have a very close relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder). Husbands and wives of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens, and children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens (including step children) have top priority and can qualify for a green card relatively quickly.

Other family members, such as husbands and wives of permanent residents, children over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens can also qualify for family sponsored green cards. But, these family members must wait for a green card to be available (there are waiting lists), which can take anywhere from five to 15 years!

Employment based green cards are often the best possibility for our clients. There are five types:

      • EB-1: for aliens with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers
      • multinational business managers and executives.
      • EB-2: for aliens with exceptional ability or aliens with advanced degrees (employer/sponsor required)
      • EB-3: for professional workers (with university degree), skilled workers and unskilled workers (employer/sponsor required)
      • EB-4: for religious workers
      • EB-5: for aliens who invest $1 million and create 10 new full time jobs (in limited situations, an investment of $500,000 is acceptable).

Processing times for employment based green card vary widely. An EB-1 or EB-5 application can be approved in less than 1 year. E2 visa processing times vary by country. The U.S. consulates generally review E-2 applications in ess than a month. The U.S. consulate in Germany reviews them in as fast as two weeks. The U.K, and Norway, from my experience, tend to be slower than consulates in other countries(such as France, Italy, Belgium Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, etc.). On average, processing time is about 5 weeks. However, an EB-3 application could take more than 5 years.

The green card lottery (diversity green card) is government program designed to increase immigration from countries that do not produce a large number of immigrants to the U.S. Only people born in certain countries can qualify (for example, people born in Canada, Mexico, England, India, China, and the Philippines can not participate).

Each year the government selects 100,000 winners for 50,000-55,000 green cards. The government assumes that some winners will not qualify. The time to enter the green card lottery changes every year, but it is usually between October and December. For more information, see the government’s lottery website: DV Lottery

Our firm does not handle applications for political asylum or refugee status. However, this is one way to qualify for a green card. To qualify, an applicant must prove he or she has been persecuted in the past or has a well founded fear of persecution in his or her home country based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Asylum applicants may apply for asylum even if he or she entered the U.S. illegally or if he or she is in the U.S. on an expired visa/I-94. Generally, asylum applicants must apply for asylum within one year of their arrival in the U.S. but there are several exceptions which will allow the filing of an asylum application after one year.

2. Temporary Visas

Many clients prefer to be in the U.S. before or during a green card application. Therefore, they first come to the U.S. on a temporary visa. There are about 30 different kinds of temporary visas. The most common temporary visas for our law firm are as follows:

      • B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas, which permit a visitor to remain in the U.S. for up to six month (employment is not permitted).
      • E-2 Treaty Investor Visas, which permit investors from certain countries to invest a substantial amount of money and acquire a controlling interest in an active U.S. business. The visa is issued for up to five years and is renewable. The investor can work in his or her own business. The spouse can qualify for an unrestricted temporary work card. Children up to the age of 21 can accompany the parents and attend school, but cannot work.
      • F-1 Student Visas, which permit foreign students to attend U.S. educational institutions. Limited employment is permitted in some cases.
      • H-1B Visas for Workers in Specialty Occupations, which permit employment of professional level workers by a sponsoring employer. The visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed another three years (additional renewals are possible in some cases).
      • J-1 Visas for Participants in Exchange Programs, which permit business trainees to come to the U.S. to learn about an occupation or profession for up to 18 months.
      • K-1 Visas for a Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen.
      • K-3 Visas for a Spouse of a U.S. citizen.
      • L-1 Visas for Multinational Managers, Executives and Specialized Knowledge employees who are being transferred to the U.S. by a related international company.
      • O-1 Visas for Aliens with Extraordinary Ability who are seeking temporary employment. This visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed in one year increments.
      • P-1 Visas for Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups and Athletes.
      • R-1 Visas for Religious Workers who are being transferred to the U.S. by a related international church.
      • TN Visas for certain professional workers from Mexico and Canada. This visa is issued for three years and can be renewed in three year increments.

Deciding which type of temporary visa to apply for is usually based on the question, do you want to work for someone else or do you want to have your own business?

Highlights of the E2 Non-Immigrant Investor Visa

Visitors to the United States have numerous options to legally enter the US for a short-term stay. If qualified, they can enter on an ESTA program with a clear and fixed business itinerary but not for work. They can also make an application for a B1/B2 non-immigrant visa to visit the US for short term business purpose or holiday.

That said, the E2 Visa as sanctioned by the Department of State and the American legislature is perhaps one of the most powerful non-immigrant visas to the United States. It allows a foreign investor an opportunity to be able to make a commercial investment in the United States, manage and operate the enterprise.

The base application which includes family members and minor children, requires a substantial investment in a commercial enterprise whether new or existing. Normally the value of the enterprise should exceed $100,000. The application is made at the US consulate or embassy closest to the primary residence of the applicant.

The applicant will initially come to the United States as a prospective investor to survey the opportunities prior to making the actual investment. Then, he or she can enter into a conditional or binding agreement for the purchase or creation of the enterprise. There is no restriction as to the type of enterprise so long as it is for profit. Normally the process takes six months from start to finish.

The key benefits to this visa are that it allows the individual hands-on management of the enterprise as well as any employees. Specialized employees from source country can also be added to the application as needed. It allows the holder to be able to enter or leave the United States at will for a five-year duration. Maximum durations per visit however while in the United States are for two years at a time. There is a re-validation process as needed at the end of the five-year term while most individuals either acquire another enterprise or sell it.

The enterprise may be a freestanding operation or a franchise. Franchises are looked upon more favorably by United States consuls as they are “businesses in a box“ and therefore have a higher degree of success probability. It is recommended that applicants or investors acquire an enterprise with which they already have a familiarity.

Once the investor has identified and studied the business, he will normally retain legal counsel to ensure that a proper business plan is being made as well as engage with the formalities of consular processing. The length of time for this will depend on the location of the embassy. Some consulates will take some time to review the case others will make an expeditious decision.

To qualify as an investor, the consul will want to ensure that the individual has no criminal record, has no intent to immigrate to the United States on a permanent basis, has enough business acumen to be able to make a success of the business, and that the business has sufficient cash flow to be able to earn more than just a living, i.e. the enterprise cannot be marginal. 

The costs involved in setting up the enterprise, consular processing, business plans and other collateral legal requirements are dependent on the type and scope of the business as well as the number of family members and/or employees who are involved in the overall application. It is recommended that these issues be clarified with counsel before commencing on any legal or financial commitment.

The Behar Law Group is an AV rated Preeminent law firm by Martindale Hubbell, a leading rating agency, and has been in existence in US immigration since 1979. It has an extensive website at: www.E2lawyer.com

It is recommended that investors acquire as much information and education about the United States and the formalities needed for the visa process prior to commencing any business activity.

Deciding which type of temporary visa to apply for is usually based on the question, do you want to work for someone else or do you want to have your own business?

Buying a franchise in the US

A franchise resale is an established franchise business that is for sale. There are many benefits to buying a franchise resale including having existing cash flow, customers in place, staff (if appropriate to the business) and a brand presence.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of franchise resales available in the US. And so if you are interested in relocating to the States, then buying a franchise could be an ideal way of doing it.

Franchise Resales can help UK investors get a Green Card by buying a franchise. If you are interested in buying an existing franchise in the US, visit www.franchiseresales.com. They have a list of franchise businesses for sale by State.

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