Before You Start

US FlagAre you considering changing your lifestyle by living and working in America?

Here are a few thoughts for you at the start of the process:

Work out what you will have to spend and how you will get the money together. This could be the sale of or loan against the family home, a deed of gift, or a repayable loan.  For an E-2 visa application you are required to make a “substantial investment” but this is not defined by the Foreign Affairs Manual that adjudicators work to. Many visa attorneys and consultants will put an arbitrary figure on it but this is not set in stone and no-one should assume that they can’t afford to make this move. Franchises, semi-start-ups and start-ups can all be applied for with lower investment and Visa2theStates has had many successes getting approval for lower end investments

The internet is a marvellous place to start and you can do a lot of research on-line before any firm decision is made. You can:

  1. Join one of the Forums that specialise in providing information on visas and visa applications as well as living and working in America. is a great place to start. Here you will find details on all aspects of American life, from schools to medical, from demographics to shopping.
  2. Get a list of businesses available and decide on the sort of future that may appeal. Be open minded at this stage. Something you may not have thought of might be perfect for this lifestyle change
  3. Look at the demographics and images of areas you are considering moving to.
  4. Work out the costs of items you will need in America such as cars, phones, etc.
  5. Join It's completely free and will help to get your many questions answered by members looking to go or who have already made the journey.

Look at the working visa options, and decide which best applies to your situation. The E-2 is an investor visa and for many, will represent the only option. The L-1 visa works for those who have an existing UK business and can keep the operation active whilst in the USA.

Get familiar with the requirements at

Where To Live

California Yosemite PhotoBe flexible on where you want to be. There are many great areas to live so look at the business available before you decide on area. It’s the business that will get you there and, more importantly, keep you there.

You have three options when it comes to businesses. You can:

  1. Buy an existing business. The advantage is that you can start earning from day one. Business price is not necessarily a factor if you can show through a five year projection that you can fulfil the criteria.
  2. Buy a new franchise area. The advantage is the  support structure provided
  3. Start a new business from scratch. The advantage is you have not purchased anything so the money can be used to purchase new equipment. Most of the “spend” will be done in the form of quotations so initial outlay is very low but projections need to be workable and it needs to be a good business idea.

Be aware that if a single applicant purchases the business the partner can apply for an EAD and can work independently. This is a good route to sponsorship and green card but does not apply if the business is joint owned and the visa is awarded to both parties.

Whichever way you go, look outside the box. Something you would not think of initially might be absolutely perfect for you and your family.

When considering 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, though, and you don’t have to have run a business previously.