What are the best Business Visas?
Considered the “land of opportunity” by many around the world, the United States has an abundance of business prospects for both aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs. For foreign nationals to take advantage of some of these opportunities, there are certainly some immigration hurdles that must be faced. However, there remain several possible pathways to obtain an entrepreneur visa in the USA, and with the guidance of our expert immigration attorneys, the process doesn’t have to be stressful or complicated.
What are the differences...
Entrepreneur Visa Categories
This temporary intra company transfer visa is applicable for foreign entrepreneurs who have an existing business abroad with an office in or intent to open a new office in the US. It allows the foreign entrepreneur to transfer themselves and/or one or more other qualified employees to their US office or to set up a new office if one does not yet exist. The L1 visa presents the perfect opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their foreign operations internationally to the US.
As an intra company transfer visa, the transferring entrepreneur or employee must have already worked with the company at its foreign location for a minimum of 1 year during the prior 3 years. Other key requirements of the L1 visa include the existence of a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and its US entity, and for the transferring worker to be employed in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.
Some entrepreneur visas require a substantial investment, and EB5 is a key example of this. It is also one of only two entrepreneur visas that lead directly to a green card. For business immigration seekers who do not qualify for the EB1C permanent visa and have a lot of capital to invest, it may be worth considering making a direct investment through the EB-5 program. Unlike investing into an EB5 regional center, the direct investment model allows investors to take an active role in the management of their investment.
Whether investing directly or through an EB5 regional center, the EB-5 program requires a minimum investment of $1.8 million (or $900,000 if the project is in a targeted employment area) into a new enterprise. For a direct investment projects, 10 full-time direct US jobs must be created, and the investor must actively engage in the management of the business. The investment funds must have been lawfully obtained and must be put at risk.
The E2 visa is another great option for entrepreneurs who have funds to invest and wish to operate a business in the US. While it does not provide any direct paths toward a green card, it is usually much cheaper than EB5 with no set minimum investment. The E2 entrepreneur visa allows for an unlimited number of visa renewals, and has provisions for immediate family members to apply in conjunction with the primary applicant so that children may attend school in the US and spouses may obtain work permits.
One of the primary E2 visa requirements is that the applicant must be a citizen of an E2 treaty country. While there is no set minimum, the money invested must be “substantial” to support the success of the business. This amount can vary considerably depending on industry, niche, and a variety of other factors so presenting USCIS with a feasible business plan is key. The investment must be put at risk for the purposes of operating an active for-profit business.
Like the E2, the E1 visa is for nationals of treaty countries. As one of the less expensive business visas, no investment is required, rather the purpose of this visa is to increase trade between the treaty trader countries and the US. The E-1 entrepreneur visa provides opportunities for international traders to support and grow their business while living in or moving freely in and out of the US. While there is no set minimum for the amount of trade, frequent bulk trades over an extended period of time are favored, and at least 50% of the trade should be with the US.
The key requirements of the E1 visa are similar to that of E2 visas in that applicants must be members of one of the treaty countries. The list of treaty trader countries for E-1, however, differs slightly from the E2 treaty country list. In place of investing into a US business, applicants must be engaged in substantial trade with the US. For both the E1 and E2 visas, employees of an executive, managerial, or specialized skills capacity may also be eligible.
Business immigration doesn’t have to be expensive. The EB1C is the permanent version of the L-1 visa, allowing foreign entrepreneurs with existing businesses in their home countries to transfer themselves or their employees to an affiliated US office without any formal investment. There are a couple of limitations for the EB1C compared to L1, which can usually be overcome by transitioning from the L1 to the EB1C over a period of time. As an immigrant visa, successful foreign employees and their dependents will all receive a US green card.
EB1C Visa Requirements
With similar requirements to the L1, this immigrant visa is for foreign companies to transfer a qualified employee (who may be the owner of the company) to its US affiliate office, and the employee must have worked at the foreign company for at least one year within the last three years. However, unlike the L-1 visa, only executive and managerial staff are eligible to apply, and the US company must also have been in operation for at least one full year.
Your Best Option | Entrepreneur Visa USA
With so many visa types in the US, choosing the best entrepreneur visa to suit each scenario involves considering a variety of questions. What type of business are you endeavoring upon? What are your business and expansion goals? Are you looking to make an investment? If so, what is your budget? Does your country of citizenship have a treaty with the US? Do you have a currently operating business in your home country? Is your ultimate goal to obtain US permanent residency?
As a comprehensive boutique law firm, our immigration attorneys are directly accessible for consultation during your entire process. Starting from choosing the option that is best suited to you to formulating a strategy toward success and providing expert legal representation for every case until final resolution, Immigration General Counsel is committed to walking alongside you from beginning to end.