Guest Post: Establishment of U.S. Hospitality Businesses Is a Win-Win for Foreign National Investors and the U.S. Economy and Culture

By Steve Maggi, Esq., SMA Law Firm

In the most international city in the U.S., New York City is full of ethnic businesses, especially in the restaurant industry, where every nationality’s cuisines has representative places to eat. Fueling the growth of foreign fare restaurants is the E-2 investor visa.

Immigrants with a reasonable amount of capital and a solid business plan to start a new company, or buy a business or franchise, can apply for the E-2 visa depending on their nationality(ies) and whether the U.S. has an investor treaty with their country(ies). The decision of whether to grant the visa is based on the probability of success of that business. This determination takes into account both how detailed and innovative the business plan is as well as the demand for the business’ products and/or services, as well as the amount of funding required to get a business up and running until it begins to generate revenue sufficient to lead to its growth and success. Here are some things to keep in mind about this particular visa:

  • The E-2 visa gives the applicant 5 years to form a successful business in the U.S.: The continuation of the individual’s legal stay in the U.S. is based upon the success of the business. So if the business fails, the visa is terminated and the holder must return to his or her country of origin or apply for a change of status to another visa or for a green card based on another venture, job offer or direct family relationship with a U.S. citizen or resident. The good news is that as long as the business remains successful, the visa holder can continue to live in the U.S. indefinitely. The visa can be continually renewed every five years as long as the business remains viable.
  • Only an individual with experience and/or interest in running a small business should apply: While the visa may accomplish an important goal of family reunification, it should not be used by someone who is not serious about running a business or lacks an entrepreneurial mindset. There are other potential means available for someone just looking to invest money and come here to stay with relatives, such as the EB-5 visa. The E-2 is best used by a person who wants to work hard and do what it takes to maintain a profitable business. If they lack experience sometimes a franchise model is the best one, as they are instructed and guided by the corporate entity which controls the brand, which of course maximizes the probability of success.
  • The application process is relatively simple: Many visa applications have a mandatory two-part process, ie. the petition must first be reviewed in the U.S. by immigration officials here and then, if approved, an applicant must apply for the visa itself at his or her corresponding U.S. embassy. In contrast, the E-2 visa can be applied for directly in U.S. embassies vis-a-vis consular processing, a process which is a quicker and less expensive application process, and can reduce the chance of denials (one chance of denial versus two). The application can also be done if the applicant is already in the U.S. through a change of status.
  • E-2 applicants are only be eligible if they come from certain nations: E-2 investor visas are only available to citizens from countries that have bilateral investor treaties with the U.S. Notably, citizens of the BRIICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa) are not currently eligible for the E-2 visa. In those cases, the alternative may be EB-5 or other categories. However, it is important to point out that if someone possesses dual or multiple nationalities, that they can qualify based on just one nationality which has an existing treaty. For example, Israelis, Portuguese and Greeks (to name just a few) don’t qualify, but if they have any other treaty country nationality as well, they do.

In many situations, the E-2 visa can be a win-win situation for all involved. It leads to more businesses, which not only add to the cultural fabric of the nation in general, but also creates tangible jobs and improves the U.S. economy. Nowhere is that more abundantly clear than in the Big Apple and the its vibrant restaurant scene.

If you want more information please feel free to contact us at info@smalawyers.com.

© 2015 SMA LAW FIRM

Venture Capital Is Hungry for the Food Business

The food business is “ripe for disruption,” according to Steve Case, who cofounded America Online 30 years ago.  Case, who recently started his Washington-based venture capital firm Revolution, has made several high-profile bests on food: Sweetgreen, OrderUp, and Revolution Foods, a school-lunch company serving 1.5 million student meals per week.

“There are opportunities to improve the way things are done at every level: How food is produced, exported, processed, consumed,” Case said in an interview this week. “Our focus … is on investing in people and ideas that can change the world, and it’s harder to imagine anything that changes the world as much as food.”  To Case, the opportunity is, like in tech, in scalability: “It’s one thing to create one product in one particular restaurant,” Case said. “It’s another thing to roll it out to 5,000 restaurants, where the chefs are 16-year-old kids who have worked there for a few hours.”

Case thinks that the low barriers to entry and potentially high profit margins are partially why so many successful food companies have rested on their laurels, and this is where tech will come in to disrupt–especially given that eaters are embracing dining out more often and using apps for payment.  Sweetgreen, one of Case’s investments, is a salad shop that receives more than 20% of its orders through the chain’s mobile app.

“We’re in the first days, the early innings of this food revolution,” he said. “Nothing’s more important than what you put in your mouth three, four, five times a day.”

To read more, click here.

Soaring Beef Prices Drive Demand for Goat and Lamb

Goat is the most widely consumed meat everywhere except America.  The States have a poor perception of the farm animals, but that, fortunately, is changing, thanks to a rise in cattle prices.

Kevin Good, senior analyst at CattleFax, explained that beef costs are rising due to cattle herds being decimated after multiple years of drought that drove of feed prices.  Cattle farmers are rebuilding their herds, but the process takes up to three years, so prices are likely to stay high until 2016 or 2017.

For chefs, this means turning to alternatives, and goat is an exciting meat right now.  Stephanie Izard, chef of Girl and the Goat, won a James Beard Award for her cooking, which was basically dedicated to the animal.  Her menu includes goat liver mousse, goat carpaccio, and confit goat belly, to name a few items.  Similarly, Scott Conant, James Beard Award winner and founder of Scarpetta, has championed goat for years on his menu.

And this is a boon for guests and grocery shoppers.  Goat is lower in fat than chicken, but higher in protein than beef.  Lamb, which is already more widely consumed in the States than goat, is also seeing a rise in demand.  Multi-unit concepts are embracing the meat and using it in place of burgers.

To read more, click here.

Beer Brands to List Calories

Four of the world’s largest brewers have agreed to add calorie counts to packaging in Europe, and the US could be next.  Anheuser-Busch InBevSA, SABMiller PLC, Heineken NV and Carlsberg A/S are all members of the Brewers of Europe, a trade body representing beer makers across the continent.  The trade group recently voted to begin listing calorie counts as early as this week.

The decision comes as alcohol producers are facing increased pressure to follow the food industry by providing more detail on nutritional labels.  The pressure on the food industry comes from a growing trend, especially among developed markets, for healthier choices in meals and foods.  In 2014, 71% of Americans polled said “healthfulness” was a consideration when buying foods and beverages according to the International Food Information Council Foundation.

The brewers’ trade group is following on the heals of Diageo, the world’s largest alcoholic beverage company, which will begin printing per-serving calorie counts on products including Smirnoff and Guiness, and may be in stores in the next two months.

To read more, click here.

James Beard Award Chef and Restaurant Finalists Announced

After months of deliberation, the James Beard Foundation has finally honed in on the selection of finalists for this years’ Chef and Restaurant awards.  The awards will be held May 4 in Chicago–the first time outside NYC in 24 years! Here is a quick review of the local talent that made the cut:

  • Batard, nominated for Best New Restaurant
  • Jim Lahey, nominated for Outstanding Baker
  • Maison Premiere, nominated for Outstanding Bar Program
  • Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, nominated for Outstanding Chef
  • Ghaya Oliveira, Daniel, nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Christina Tosi, Momofuku, nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar, Per Se, and The Spotted Pig nominated for Outstanding Restaurant
  • Marea, nominated for for Outstanding Service

To see the complete list, click here.

Recipe for Rice with Fewer Calories

Scientists at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka have developed a recipe for rice that greatly reduces the amount of digestible calories.  Rice is the most-widely consumed source of calories in the world, and in many cuisines, it is consumed with every meal of the deal.  The problem, however, is that as rice has gotten cheaper to produce but not any healthier to consume: a single cup of the cooked grain has about 200 calories–mostly in starch form.  These starches convert to fat in the body when not burned off shortly after consumption.

Thus, the interest in slowly-digestible and resistant starches is growing, and that’s where undergraduate student Sudhair James’ research comes in.  “If you can reduce the digestible starch in something like steamed rice, you can reduce the calories,” said Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah, a professor who is supervising the research. “The impact could be huge.”  Rice is usually converted into glucose in the gut, and then glycogen soon after.  This glycogen builds up when we don’t exercise enough to expend the energy consumed.  However, some “resistant” starches take too long for the body to process into glucose or glycogen, so we don’t process as many calories.

The Sri Lanka team has developed a recipe that converts regular white rice into a starch more similar to a resistant starch: “What we did is cook the rice as you normally do, but when the water is boiling, before adding the raw rice, we added coconut oil—about 3 percent of the weight of the rice you’re going to cook,” said Sudhair James, who presented his preliminary research at National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on Monday. “After it was ready, we let it cool in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. That’s it.”

To read more about the research, click here.

Per Se Alums Open Fine-Casual Hawaiian

Chef Chung Chow, Jin Ahn, and Gerald San Jose all met while working for Thomas Keller at the New York City fine dining institution, Per Se.  However, they’re no longer dabbling in French or American classics.  The trio has moved on to open a Noreetuh: a 42-seat, upscale-casual restaurant in the Eat Village focused on Japanese, Korean, and Filipino cuisines and where those three meet–Hawaiian.

Jin Ahn has assembled an impressive wine list with an emphasis on Burgundy and Bordeaux, but has kept the selection largely under $150.  Chow’s cooking reflects his upbringing in Hawaii and Japan with such dishes as pork croquettes, garlic shrimp over sticky rice, and crispy mochi waffles.  The menu is priced between $5 and $22, reinforcing the current trend of the return of casual dining, albeit with a fine-dining tweak.

To read more about Noreetuh, click here.

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