I have been researching the E-2 for several weeks now, and trying to decide if it's right for someone in my situation. I am a Canadian with an American business partner, and together we are launching a website. It's just he and I working on it (although we've hired US web developers / designers).
I have carefully read the requirements for an E-2 and consulted with 2 lawyers, but it really seems like the regulations for the E-2 were not written with internet start-ups in mind. In other words, lawyers I have spoken with have said that for a reasonable chance of success, I'd have to show, among other things:
- an at-risk investment of $100,000
- a 5-year business plan
- a minimum of 2 American jobs created.
The problem, as I alluded to, is that none of those requirements are really reasonable for an internet start-up. They'd make sense, say, if I were opening up a restaurant or a movie theater, but for an internet start-up, they're borderline nonsensical. I mean: $100,000 is a King's ransom for a website! And a 5-year business plan? Facebook is barely 5 years old! I guess I could put together that kind of business plan, but it would be more fantasy than reality.
So I guess the question is really whether the USCIS would take these into account when evaluating my application. The lawyers I have spoken with say that they look at the application as a whole, but I've got absolutely no idea whether they're used to seeing E-2 applications for internet startups, and make allowances for the fact that they're very different animals than "traditional" businesses. I don't want to go through the time/expense of the application process if there is a very low chance of success.