Young Chef Successfully Obtains E-2 Visa Through Business Plan Before Company Opens
Applicant: Mr. Dong
Industry: Food and Beverage Consulting
Position: Chairman of the Board
Number of employees: 3
Investment amount: 100,000 USD
–Low expected revenue in the near term, with less than 10% growth
–Company is poised to enter a very niche industry
– Business plans must be restructured and strategically re-engineered
Ms. Chen is planning to open a new restaurant and hire a chef for the restaurant. After a few selections and recommendations, she finally met Mr. Dong. Mr. Dong, an award-winning young talent in the restaurant industry, was the perfect person to help Ms. Chen open her restaurant. Together, Ms. Chen and Mr. Dong then consulted with Joseph Zang of Tsang & Associates about applying for a U.S. visa for Mr. Dong. After discussing several different categories of U.S. visa options, we finally decided to apply for an E-2 treaty investor visa for Mr. Dong, despite the difficulties he would face.
We detailed to Ms. Chen and Mr. Dong the challenges they might face in the application process, and were honest with them that other firms might not consider this option desirable. However, Tsang & Associates had a number of successful E-2 visa cases, and Ms. Chen trusted Mr. Tung and believed in his ability. Indeed, after meeting Mr. Dong in person, it was obvious why Ms. Chen chose Mr. Dong.
We worked with Mr. Dong to set up a consulting company from scratch and spent a year to prove his ability to help Ms. Chen open a restaurant, and at the same time, provide him with different opportunities to develop his talent and knowledge. Two days after the interview, Mr. Dong’s US visa was approved, and now, Mr. Dong’s business is flourishing.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
The secret to a successful E-2 visa application lies in meeting several of the following USCIS-imposed requirements.
1. the treaty investor must be a citizen of the treaty country/region.
2. the company must be a legitimate U.S. corporation, a bona fide operating business and not a shell company.
3. the investment funds must be substantially and irrevocably invested in the company.
4. the investment must not be only marginal (marginal).
5. the investor must have the ability to develop and lead the business.
6. The investor must have the intent to leave the U.S. at the end of the E-2 status.
Citizenship of the treaty country/region
When Joseph Zang first met with Mr. Tung at Tsang & Associates, we were confident that we would be able to qualify Mr. Tung for an E-2 visa on his own merits. As a citizen of Taiwan, China, Mr. Tung already qualified for citizenship of the treaty country/region. To illustrate the Section 1 owner requirement, we were able to demonstrate that Mr. Tung was acting as the principal investor in the capacity of Chairman of the newly formed company by providing details of Mr. Tung’s bank loan and detailing the market prospects of his talent and his consulting firm’s approach to service.
Tsang & Associates reminds readers that mainland China is currently not part of the E-2 scope, only Taiwan, China. To check if you belong to the E-2 treaty countries/areas, you can check the official website of the U.S. Department of State at
Solid, truly operating businesses
One of the biggest challenges was proving that Mr. Dong’s restaurant consulting company (collectively, “Restaurant Consulting”) was a legitimate U.S. company – Mr. Dong was coming to the United States to start a new company, but had not yet done so. In addition, in the current environment, consulates often presume that consulting companies are “shell companies” that will not last and have no physical operating procedures. To prove the legitimacy of the restaurant consulting firm, we worked with Mr. Dong to develop a strategically sound business plan, including designing a pricing package and conducting market research (analyzing the restaurant consulting firm’s competitors in terms of locations, services offered, and differentiation). Based on this analysis, we developed a strategy to differentiate Restaurant Consultants in Southern California, a market penetration pricing strategy, and then a competitive pricing strategy to position Restaurant Consultants in the market. In addition, a list of key clients in the region was provided, including Ms. Chen, with whom Mr. Tung would soon be doing business. We use these files to illustrate Mr. Tung’s experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry and to demonstrate the benefits of a strong restaurant consulting firm in revitalizing the area’s up-and-coming restaurants.
Substantial, irrevocable investments
USCIS was concerned that the applicant’s investment was only a “risky investment”, so we also had to prove that Mr. Dong’s investment was substantial and irrevocable. This was not easy to prove because Mr. Dong was a recent college graduate and did not have sufficient capital to run a successful consulting firm. However, we demonstrated that the restaurant consulting firm was not a “speculative firm that has become or will become a successful business” by showing how Mr. Dong obtained a $100,000 loan from an investment firm and that he already had clients who were eagerly awaiting the services of the restaurant consulting firm. In addition, we provided proof that Mr. Tung has assembled a consulting team in the United States and Taiwan to further illustrate the profile and services of Restaurant Consulting.
More than just marginal investment
In addition to proving a substantial investment, we also need to prove that the investment is “more than a marginal investment. Under federal law, a “more than marginal investment” means that the income from the investment exceeds the expenses required for the person and the family, or that the investment will produce a substantial economic contribution in the future. In this case, Ms. Chen’s trust in Mr. Dong is particularly important, and we can detail that Mr. Dong’s restaurant consulting firm is critical to the future success of Ms. Chen’s new restaurant in creating and maintaining jobs. In addition, similar services from Restaurant Consulting have laid the cornerstone for Mr. Tung to retain jobs for a large number of employees at other potential restaurant clients throughout the region.
Ability to develop and lead a business
Proving that the applicant has the ability to direct and grow a business is one of the key points of the E-2 visa application. Although Mr. Tung is an award-winning chef, he does not have experience in running his own company. He does, however, work with a number of well-known/leading companies in the restaurant and hospitality industry. His expertise as a chef and his extensive experience working in numerous restaurants makes him well versed in the culinary arts and perfect for the role of F&B consultant. Through our careful study of the restaurant industry and the development of a well thought out business plan, it is evident that this restaurant consulting firm is tailor-made for Mr. Tung’s exceptional talent and that Mr. Tung is the perfect person to further develop and guide the business.
Intent to leave the United States
Finally, we had to prove Mr. Tung’s intent to return to his home country, which was difficult to prove because Mr. Tung runs a company within the United States. However, we proved Mr. Tung’s intent to return by emphasizing that the restaurant consulting firm has clients and teams in both the U.S. and Taiwan; in other words, Mr. Tung must return to Taiwan frequently to facilitate the longevity of his business there.
Immediately after submitting the written application for Mr. Dong, we focused our efforts on preparing him for the interview counseling. Mr. Dong was particularly nervous because of his average English expression skills, but he had to express the entire company operation and vision in English to the visa officer. The process of setting up a new company is complicated enough, and having to express a process in a foreign language escalated the difficulty. However, during the year of interview preparation for Mr. Dong, we focused on his ability to clearly articulate the key points of his application in English. After several mock interviews with the lawyers and staff at Tsang & Associates – including late night mock interviews on the eve of the interview – Mr. Dong felt confident and well prepared. The interview lasted nearly two hours and was approved on the spot. Mr. Dong was overwhelmed with joy, his nerves were gone, and he was sure that his E-2 visa would be approved.
On November 7, 2018, Mr. Dong went to AIT for an interview to apply for an E-2 visa, and his application was approved on the same day. Today, Mr. Dong has successfully entered the U.S. to start his business, and both his and Ms. Chen’s businesses are flourishing.
*Pseudonyms are used in the cases to protect the privacy of our clients.
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