Application Process

US Embassy Logo • Want to change your life and lifestyle?

• Seek a new way forward for you and your family?

• Considering buying a business in the States to do this?

Here's a few thoughts before you start the process

If you want to achieve a change of lifestyle by living and working in America and you intend to do this through business purchase, are you considering starting a new business or buy an existing one? Existing is simpler for most because it provides existing trade to grow.

Where do want to be? US Visa requirements are the same wherever you go but the prices can vary considerably in different places. Don’t tie yourself to an area you have already experienced. Be open-minded at this stage. Look outside the box.

Consider the type of business you want to operate. Choose one that appeals and that you’ll enjoy. Success will require enthusiasm and hard work.

  • You don’t need to work in a business you've worked before.
  • You don’t have to have run a business previously yourself.
  • However, both will greatly assist your application.

Look at the visa options, and decide which best applies to your situation. E-2 visa has faults but, for many, will represent the only option. Get familiar with the requirements and how they apply to you and your family.

What is your financial situation because most failures are due to underfunding

  • What funds do you have available?
  • Does it mean selling up?
  • Can you retain a UK house by taking equity in mortgage and then renting out when the time comes?
  • Will the funds be enough for all the aspects of what you are considering, including a survival fund during the first months of operation?

Find a reliable business broker in the State where you wish to live, preferably in the area that you want to live. They will locate suitable businesses for you to consider, provide break down figures and send details to you in the UK. But do your research carefully. There are good and bad in every area of operation. Be careful and always gain a second, uninvolved opinion. www.theusaforum.com is a great source for this type of information.

Next Steps

Once you have a shortlist, plan a trip to the US to see the businesses first hand and talk with people and employees face to face. Check out the local areas where you might like to live. Carefully check out area, properties, communications, schools, shops, amenities, etc.

Once you have settled on your business and checked out the operation and financials, you will need to finalise your purchase agreement. A signed purchase contract is needed before the visa application is submitted. Include a clause that states "completion is subject to successfully obtaining the relevant visa” and don’t pay out any money until the visas is issued, where possible. Also, remember that if you have an E-2 visa your partner will be provided with an EAD and can work independantly. This does not apply if the business is joint owned and the visa is awarded to both parties.

The purchase amount will need to be lodged in escrow in the US prior to any visa application and a transparent paper trail shown. Take advice from as many as possible to be sure your escrow provider is trustworthy. Never put your money with the same people that are sourcing the business or providing visa services. Again, www.theusaforum.com is good for independent advice in this very important area. Don't put your money at risk.

It is advisable not to sell up in the UK and move your family to the US until after the visa is issued. However, the financial implications of escrow might make it necessary to sell your property and rent.

Machine Readable Immigrant VisaDo not give up your current employment until the visa is issued. You will not be sure of success until the Embassy advise you on the day of interview.

You can travel to the US on the 90 day visa waiver program or on a 180 day B visa to look at businesses, sign contracts, open business bank accounts, and sign leases. However, you must not run the business until you have the requisite visa and for any B visa application will need to make it clear that you intend to return to the UK.

Don't close your UK bank account and consider keeping your NI payments current to protect your UK pension.

Finally, just remember there is no such thing as too much research. This is a big change you are considering so research, research, research and them do some more.