doing business in us

Foreign Companies May Need to Act Soon if They Plan to Establish Business in U.S.

Global mobility specialists are reeling just a bit from the couple of shock waves that the industry has recently received from the Trump administration’s emerging policies — or positions — on immigration.

The first salvo came when the new government announced that it would slow down the assessment of the H1-B visa that allows foreigners to work legally in the U.S. While tech hubs like Silicon Valley and medical centers in remote areas are still creating contingencies to prevent any talent shortage that can cripple their businesses, word has just trickled down that the H4 work authorization is also under scrutiny. That’s the visa that allows spouses of assignees to find and secure employment in the United States.

At this point, your assignees must be asking you how long they can still keep working in this country. They will also ask the same about their spouses.

As in any crisis, cooler heads can still find smart, strategic ways to respond with an effective solution. Read our earlier blog if you want to know how to deal with any attempt to suspend the H-1B visa, and how to navigate your assignee through this confusion. Understand that there is a silver lining to this: if the assignee has a spouse working in the U.S., an equal suspension of the H4 work authorization is not the end of the world. In fact, there is another option that your assignee and his partner can avail of, to remain happy and productive in the United States.

This option will allay mounting criticism that foreign workers and their spouses take jobs away from the Americans who need them. In fact, it will mute those comments because this option will, in its own way, “give back to America.” The only caveat is, your assignee and/or his spouse would need resources at their disposal.

This other option is the E-2 visa, which permits an immigrant or a foreigner to establish a business in the U.S. This would be one visa that immigration critics in the Trump administration would find hard to negate, simply because it would bring revenues to the economy, boost taxes, and provide the needed jobs Americans had been hankering for.

Here are some of the advantages in obtaining an E-2 visa that can make it a win-win situation for all concerned: the assignee, his family, the U.S. government,  Americans—and your organization.

E-2 visas allow the foreign business owners to stay for an initial period of two to five years, according to the National Law Review. After that, subject to government study and approval, they can renew it indefinitely every two years.

The assignee’s spouse who would be applying for this E-2 visa can determine her role in the company that is about to be established. She can simply invest the monies and have oversight as the Chairman and employ a general manager and other staff to run daily operations. Another option is, she can run the company herself with a hands-on approach.

The assignee and his spouse can make this operations a family affair. The spouse of the E-2 visa holder can stay in the company for the duration of the visa effectivity. So can children who are less than 21 years old; once the kids turn 21, they have to return to their country of origin. However, an assignee and his spouse can leverage on their joint status to create a long and productive future in the U.S.

Imagine this: the assignee stays for the duration of his two-year contract. His spouse obtains an E-2 visa and is allowed to stay for five years in order to grow the business. After his contract expires, the spouse — your assignee — can still stay in the U.S. because he is covered by his wife’s E-2 visa. And if their children are very young, from infant to middle-school, they don’t have to worry about their status either.

The investment required to apply and obtain an E-2 visa is considerable: $100,000. This is where the resources and the support of your assignee’s family, extended clan, and entire network of friends, in the US or his country of origin, can come in. However, as one immigration consultant points out, it is possible for the foreign investor to start with a lesser amount, but only between treaty countries. As long as he can show a definite and realistic blueprint with a growth trajectory that will see earnings in a couple of years, his chances of approval remain high.

Bring all these facts to your assignee who may find himself in  a state of anxiety because of the developments concerning the H-1B and H-4 visas. Point out these options and help him assess if he and his spouse can manage this transition. As long as they have a solid business plan and the initial capital, they can start on a sure footing.

California Corporate Housing has dealt with many foreign talents and can definitely assist foreign businesses make their transition in the U.S. with its extensive contacts in northern California.

There is an opportunity to be made here — and let that realization turn into a self-confidence that can override your assignee’s current anxiety. One last thing he and his spouse have to remember: their business has to succeed. The minute it shuts down, both of them have to go back to their country of origin.

This is a scenario neither of them would want to happen. Whether both the assignee and the spouse are already in the U.S. or not, it’s important to consult with an immigration consultant right away, as the current administration’s recent actions are skewed toward enacting changes in every branch of government.