The E-2 Visa is not just for large multi-million dollar investments. The E-2 visa is often used by entrepreneurs starting a new business or investing in an existing business. One of the many requirements for an E-2 visa is an office to support business operations. We discuss the E-2 visa office requirement here.
E-2 Visa Physical Office Requirement
Under the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), there is no absolute requirement for physical office space for an E-2 visa and a physical office is not a requirement for the approval of an E-2 visa. However, depending on the type of business, the existence of a physical office space may be a factor to determine if the business has a sufficient US presence to support the operations of the business.
For example, a logistics company may require not only physical office space but also a garage and sufficient parking to support the operations of the business. A hair salon could operate in a much smaller space, with no need for a garage, or its own parking lot. Each investment is looked at independently to determine if a physical office space is required.
Can I use a home office for an E-2 visa?
Generally, a home office will not meet the physical office requirement for an E-2 visa. If there is a need for a physical office, it cannot be residential. The requirement is for a valid commercial lease for premises sufficient to support the successful operations of the business.
Can I use a virtual office for an E-2 visa?
Similar to a home office, a virtual office does not meet the physical office requirement for an E-2 visa. A virtual office where you simply pay for an address or P.O. box does not suffice. A qualifying office must have a dedicated workspace and a defined floor plan. You must be able to prove that the office space is sufficient to support the physical business operations.
Can I use a shared office space for an E-2 visa?
Yes. Many tech companies or start-up companies used shared office space. This is a viable option for an E-2 Visa as long as the shared space includes a dedicated desk, office, and workspace. You must be able to demonstrate that the shared office space meets all the requirements necessary to support the successful operations and needs of your business.
How do I show I meet the physical office requirement?
In many cases, the government will ask for proof that a sufficient physical office has been acquired. This can be shown with a lease/rental agreement with a detailed floor plan of the workspace including square footage. You can also include photographs of the inside and outside of the space including signage, workspaces, parking, etc.
What if I have a mobile business?
If you have a mobile business, a commercial lease may not be necessary or required. We have seen this with snow cone trucks, mobile mechanics, food trucks, mobile pet groomers, mobile car detailers, etc.
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