Ramin Asgard: "We are ready to help!"

Journalist Ali Cinar interviewed former high-ranking U.S. Government Official,Founder&Principal of Asgard Law Offices, Ramin Asgard about the Investor visa opportunities and the Turkey-US trade relationship.

 What does your company offer to business leaders? Can you explain the E2 Investor visa process? Is it difficult to get it? What are the requirements?     

What Asgard Law Offices Offers: U.S. investment, business, and entrepreneur immigration advisory services and a range of options, including the E-2 visa, the E-1 visa, the EB-5 green card, as well a range of business, family, and other immigration options for the U.S.  We also provide a range of Citizenship By Investment (CBI) and Residency By Investment (RBI) programs for other countries beyond the U.S., including Turkey.

The E-2 Investor Visa Process: The U.S. E-2 visa is a renewable investor visa available to citizens of select countries – including Turkey – which allows the investor to set up a new or existing business in the U.S.  The E-2 application provides long-term visa status for the applicant, his/her spouse, and children under 21.  It is possible to apply for an E-2 visa from inside the U.S. or apply overseas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Is the E-2 Difficult to Get?: While the E-2 Investor Visa has very specific requirements, if these requirements are met and the applicant – working with a qualified immigration attorney and business plan preparer – submits a well-documented and complete application, and performs adequately in their visa interview, the odds of approval are quite high.  Historically, the E-2 visa has a roughly 90% approval rate.  Processing time varies, but it is usually possible to complete the E-2 process in about 3 months.

Requirements for an E-2 Visa include:

-The applicant must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country;

-The applicant must be willing to invest in a new or existing business in the U.S. and be willing and able to manage and direct that business (not a passive investment);

-The investment must be “substantial”, an amount that varies depending on the type of business ($150,000 is a good baseline);

-The applicant must detail the lawful “Source of Funds” for the investment capital; and

-The applicant must prepare a comprehensive business plan for the new or existing  E-2 business, including financial projections and staffing plans.

Do you see opportunities for Turkish companies to invest and penetrate U.S Market?

Absolutely - 2021 was a record setting for Turkey-U.S. bilateral trade and investment, and 2022 looks like it may be even better, with positive trends across a range of bilateral issues including commercial ties, spurred on by the new Turkey-U.S. Strategic Mechanism and a shifting geopolitical landscape making positive Turkey-U.S. ties more vital than ever.  Turkey’s main exports to the U.S. remain textiles and footwear, machinery and appliances, stone, glass and metals, and transportation equipment.  These are traditional sectors for Turkish exports to the U.S., although some new Turkish niche products and services as well as technology services may be added to the bilateral trade mix.  Next year, 2023, is obviously a vitally important year for Turkey, and could see a major increase in Turkey-US commercial relations.  Not only is 2023 the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, 2023 will also witness Turkey’s Sakarya gas field coming onstream.   Turkey may even become an energy exporter, greatly enhancing its already pivotal role in the regional and global energy security domain in this time of acute shortages and supply disruptions. 

At the small business level, our firm has been proud to assist Turkish investors to enter the U.S. market through the E-2 Treaty Investor visa.  With an investment of $100,000 to $150,000 in a new or existing business, Turkish investors can start their U.S. business in a whole range of sectors while gaining an indefinitely renewable U.S. visa.  Such small businesses have always been a seedbed of entrepreneurship, particularly among immigrant communities.  Many successful Turkish entrepreneurs in the U.S., such as Hamdi Ulukaya (Chobani), began as immigrant entrepreneurs or built their careers thanks to a foundation from their entrepreneurial immigrant parents. 

For any Turkish entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs wishing to pursue their American Dream, our firm will be hosting an informational webinar on July 22nd to share textured insight into the E-2 Investor Visa.  Our webinar will include an immigrant entrepreneur and former U.S. Army veteran who will share his immigrant success story and offer valuable practical tips on setting up and successfully running a small business in America. 

One last note - It is worth adding that the E-1 Treaty Trader visa is also an exciting option for those in Turkey engaged in the import and export of goods and services who would like to operate their trading business in the U.S.  The E-1 visa is available to Turks who wish to set up a trading enterprise between the US, Turkey, and other markets.  For both the E-2 and E-1 visas, we offer business selection support, business plan support, investment support and secure funds transfer, immigration processing support, and visa compliance oversight to allow a trouble-free transition to the entrepreneur’s dream of being her or his own boss.  The good news is that in the U.S., bureaucratic hurdles and time needed to register and run a business are substantially less than in most countries.  In addition, the prestige of being a small business entrepreneur in America is substantial.  In fact, in a 2022 Gallup poll, small business ranked as the Number 1 most trusted institution in the U.S., even surpassing the military.  

 US and Turkey governments have 100 billion dollars trade volume objective. Is it possible? Which industries do you see opportunities or challenges?

Going back a long way to 2001, when I was the Turkey Economic Desk Officer at the Department of State, we were proud to achieve over $5 billion in U.S.-Turkey bilateral trade, and $1 billion in U.S. FDI in Turkey.  So, despite many bilateral challenges since then, the commercial relationship has definitely come a long way.  After hovering around $20 billion for the past decade, 2021 was a record year with trade volume nearing $30 billion.  President Erdogan’s ambitious goal of $100 billion would require the U.S.-Turkey relationship reaching a qualitatively different level.  As discussed earlier, the Strategic Mechanism, if advanced seriously by both countries, could lay the foundation for such a sustained expansion to a more strategic relationship including in the trade sphere.  Ideally, commercial ties would be allowed to flourish, and bilateral issues would be resolved amicably, without the volatility and disruptions to the economic relationship caused by periodic differences in the national security and regional policy sphere.  The UNGA meetings in New York coming up in September would be an ideal opportunity for Presidents Erdogan and Biden to meet and demonstrate their goodwill and mutual commitment to allow U.S.-Turkey bilateral ties to finally move closer to their full potential.

As I noted earlier, Turkey’s enhanced standing in the energy sector offers an opportunity for it to play a pivotal role in the energy industry, perhaps including a far higher level of engagement in the traditional and renewable energy sectors in the U.S. in the future.  In addition, health-and pharmaceuticals trade, especially given the ongoing challenges brought on by the pandemic, also present an opportunity.  Finally, trade in defense material, now on hold due to U.S. sanctions instituted after Turkish acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, offer high potential.  While Turkey still has not activated the S-400s, their presence has held up the sale of U.S. F-16 fighters to Turkey.  Getting by this impasse presents one of the challenges to increased U.S.-defense trade in particular, but also to solidifying the overall bilateral relationship.

About Ramin Asgard

Mr. Asgard is Founder and Managing Attorney at Asgard Law Offices, a U.S. based immigration law and global migration firm. Prior to resuming the practice of law, Mr. Asgard served as Senior Vice President for Global Business Development with First Pathway Partners, a US-based investment and global services firm. Previously, Mr. Asgard was a highly decorated veteran U.S. Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State, including tours as POLAD for GEN James Mattis and GEN David Petraeus at U.S. Central Command, Director of the Iran Regional Presence Office – Dubai, Director of the Persian Service at Voice of America, and Economic/Commercial Officer in Kabul.  Mr. Asgard is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association and serves on the Advisory Board of the Turkish Heritage Organization.   Mr. Asgard holds a JD from Tulane University, a Master’s in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA summa cum laude from Temple University.