E2 Visa – Michael and Victoria
Starting Your Own Business – For some of our E2 visa clients, their goal is not to buy an existing business or even buy into a franchise. Instead, they have a very particular dream of starting their own business from scratch doing something they may have a particular passion for. In this case Michael and Victoria had been dreaming about opening their own store selling frozen fruit deserts. As their testimonial will show, they did extensive research at home and when they were fully confident that had developed the winning formula. Once they felt they were ready they came to us to take care of their US Immigration needs. We’re so delighted that today they are proud owners of their store in Santa Monica, California. We wish them all the very best in this adventure.
Tell me about where you are from and a little bit about your career and what you do.
Our story began in some years ago. We met in Southampton on our MBA as part of a team building exercise. We were both scheduled to start training as solicitors in the City in London the following year (at the same firm!) and had been lucky enough to have been offered a fully paid MBA by the firm.
Upon meeting we instantly clicked and found our common passion for all things business related. Things progressed, we moved in a together a year later, and we found we would often come home in the evenings and talk about wanting to start a business. Finally, one rainy evening on holiday in Venice we decided this was our route. We had always seen a gap in the market for an all fruit based dessert made from fruit, but with the same texture of ice cream. Likewise, we instantly knew our market was Los Angeles. In 2012, we got married and starting planning the business.
To make sure our concept, branding and marketing, and most importantly recipes, worked we set up a production kitchen outside of London where we could test on commercial machinery and get consumer feedback before moving the concept to the USA. In a short space of time we won a BBC Good Food Show Award for our desserts and featured in Vogue, Tatler, the Daily Mail Online, Jamie Olivier Magazine and the Daily Express. We were confident that our period of research and development had come to an end…it was now time to move it to Los Angeles!
Have you ever lived in the US before? If so, under what circumstances? If not, what aroused your interest in a move to the US?
Out of the two of us, only Victoria had ever previously visited the US (Michael having never been Stateside before!). That said, we both knew within 5 minutes of coming up with our frozen fruit swirls that the Los Angeles market was where we needed to be. The combination of its all-year round warm climate, market size, demographics, as well as it being the center for food trends like frozen yogurt and juicing meant it was the perfect place to launch.
How did you decide to pursue an E2?
We knew we needed a VISA, but didn’t know where, how or what one. We started doing some research on the internet and reading the US visa legislation (we were lawyers after all). After doing so, we quickly came to the conclusion that we wanted to have a US Immigration Lawyer help guide us through the process. We know what a difference legal advice and experience can make in these matters. We came across Chris Ingram’s website and starting reading the testimonials. The firm had a lot of experience and Attorney Ingram was originally a Brit as well. Also they focused on E2 and business visas which we knew from the look of things we would be applying for. We arranged a phone call in November with Jeremy and a year later we had our visa!
What was your experience with the E2 petition process?
Overall, we found the E2 petition process good and not too stressful. The paper work was generally manageable and with Jeremy and Gabriel at the end of a phone or email we always had someone to ask and guide us if we had any questions. Their advice and demeanor were always excellent and we were very impressed with their service. The most time intensive item we found was our business plan. We had decided to write this completely ourselves (including the financial projections). Our backgrounds allowed us to do this and made the most sense as we were the most familiar with the business and concept.
What were some of the challenges you had to work on in the preparation of your case, for example evidence gathering?
The hard part for us was that we had decided to start the business from scratch rather than buy a business or franchise and take this over. This meant that before we could send off our visa application we had to find a lease in the US, set up the LLC, hire architects and contractors, finalize on the design of the store, start construction and get all our permits from Santa Monica City and Los Angeles County. We had to do this all on the Visa Waiver Program which meant timing was really tight. Everything takes longer than you think, especially when you are in a different country. It also meant we could not file the visa application until we got to a point where the business was pretty much ready to be start. The process overall for us took a year which was a challenge in itself, but you just need to focus on the end goal.
What kind of relationship did/do you have Chris and his team?
We had an excellent relationship with Chris and his team. Our main case workers were Jeremy and Gabriel both of whom we developed an excellent and friendly relationship with. Both were available by telephone and email communication (and they always responded promptly). We had no problems communicating with them from the UK or when we were in the US. They both have an excellent knowledge of the E2 visa process and help you every step of the way. The case management portal provided is great for uploading all your documents to and the videos and visa guides provided are a great resource to help you along with the process.
What were you doing when you found out you were approved? What was your immediate reaction? How did/will you celebrate?
We were at the Embassy when we were approved. We had been up since 5am that morning ready for our 8am appointment at the Embassy in London. By about 9.45 am we were called to an Interview booth, asked a few questions and after being asked to pay a processing fee came back to the booth to find out we were approved. The first feeling we got I think was relief, a lot was riding on this visa interview as we had already committed to the business in the US, so it was a risk (but one we knew we had to take). By the time we got out of the Embassy it was just after 10am (a little too early for an alcoholic beverage), so we celebrated with a coffee and a butterscotch pecan yum yum and a lemon drizzle cake. Once it reached the afternoon we celebrated with a bottle (or two) of prosecco!
What are you looking forward to most about moving to the US?
The business opportunity. We are genuinely excited about the prospects of our frozen fruit swirls and seeing our store in full swing. The entrepreneurial spirit in Los Angeles is amazing and something we both thrive off of.
What will you miss the most about your home country?
Tea, tea, tea! I think anyone who is British would agree on this one. We drink tea by the bucket load. It is the one thing we find hard to find in the US. Although, we did see as packet of PG tips for $15 once – as tempting as it was I don’t think even we as tea addicts could justify it.
What advice would you give to any immigrant considering an E2 or who is already in the process?
Make the application process as simple as possible for yourself and just spend a little extra time on sorting and thinking about all the supporting documentation you will need. This saves a lot of time, stress and frustration. We found the best thing to do was to create a visa folder on your computer where you could scan all documentation you need, that way you always had these to hand electronically. If you are traveling to the US – get a satnav and a US Cell. That was the first thing we did when we landed and they have proved our best companions since. Also if you are starting a business from scratch make sure you get your ITIN/ EIN number from the IRS as soon as possible and if you don’t have a post box a post mail box address is invaluable.
US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
Tel: 310 496 4292
Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.
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Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.
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