Q: If someone is going to start a new business here, not buy an existing one, what level of detail will the government want from the applicant/investor?
A: As a general rule, you need a written business plan or at least a pitch deck, (which seems to becoming more prevalent), i.e., the equivalent of a series of Power Point slides that equate to your initial business presentation. You have to explain what the business is going to do, how much money is being invested, how many employees will be hired, etc.
Generally, the government wants what is called a “comprehensive business plan” that describes the business, its products or services, and the objectives of the business. Often, you’ll have some kind of market analysis to show what entities you are competing against or similar businesses in the area and why your new business is better or just as good. The business plan should offer some sort of projections like 3 or 5-year income projections showing what the target market or who the prospective customers will be. Also, the business plan should list the permits and licenses required and explain that they have already been received.
A business plan is important because it tends to show that there is a bona fide business that is going to be feasible, and can persuade the consul that the business will not be marginal. If you can discuss the legitimacy of the business and can convince the officer that it feels like it’s going to be a real business, showing all of the financial information and so on, the business plan can help address the marginality issue as well.
Hopefully the applicant’s business projections will show that the company is likely to make income far greater than what is needed to support the person in the U.S. and the applicant will be investing into the business on an ongoing basis well into the future.
Also, if the type of business you are going to run requires licenses, you need to have those licenses before you apply for the visa. For example, if you open up a restaurant and you need health department clearance, the consular officer will require that you have all of the necessary licenses that he or she is aware of to start the business.