Looking to Start a Business in the US? Here are Your Visa Options

If you’ve thought about starting a business in the United States, you have probably already started asking yourself questions. 

For example, what visa options are available? Can you stay in the US legally if you start a business? How much does it cost, and will your visa option work for you?

But with different visa options and regulations, knowing where to start can be a real challenge. So here's what you need to know about the main categories of business visas and how they work.

  1. L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

The L-1 visa is for foreign nationals who a U.S. company employs to perform specific executive duties, such as supervising and managing the work of other employees, and have specialized knowledge that requires specific technological expertise.

To qualify for this visa, you must have been employed by your current or new employer for at least one year within the last three years, with at least 1,000 hours of paid employment during this period. You also need to show that no qualified U.S. workers could perform these duties successfully on an ongoing basis.

  1. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa is one of the most popular visas for entrepreneurs. In addition, the new visa program allows foreign nationals to obtain green cards and permanent resident status.

The program grants eligible immigrants the ability to invest $1 million in a commercial project or $800,000 Targeted Employment Area (TEA) that will create at least ten jobs for U.S. citizens or long-term residents.

Although the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa route allows qualified investors to obtain permanent residency in exchange for contributing their own money, it’s quite a complicated process. You’ll need plenty of professional help if you’re going this route, which is why leveraging top-quality consulting services like the EB-5 Affiliate Network is a smart way to get started.

  1. E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

The E-1 treaty trader visa is for individuals who have an active business in another country that the U.S. Department has approved of Commerce and wish to open a branch in the United States.

This visa option allows U.S.-based companies to bring over employees from other countries who hold valid H-1B or E-2 visas, are engaged in trade between the United States and another country, or will engage in trade with a foreign government.

Their employer must file a Form I-129 with USCIS, demonstrating that there are no qualified U.S.-based employees available to fill the positions and pay all applicable fees for processing their application.

  1. E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa route is a popular choice for new entrepreneurs who want to temporarily enter the US to start their business and an excellent potential option to consider when planning a successful investment journey.

The E-2 visa allows entrepreneurs to enter the US on an unlimited number of visits for three years, after which they must leave the country and apply for a new visa. To qualify, you must show that your company has a capital of at least $100,000 and has been active for at least one year in your country of residence.

  1. EB1 Employment-Based Immigration Visa 

The EB1 visa is for people with extraordinary abilities. To qualify, you must have a high degree of skill, ability, or achievement in one or more fields that are reward-oriented to the national economy and benefit the public at large.

You must show that you have at least one year of work experience or three years in the teaching or research field and demonstrate that your extraordinary ability has been recognized by persons or organizations possessing recognized authority. That will allow you to apply for permanent residency after five years in the US.

  1. O and P Extraordinary Ability Visas

The O and P visas are available for those with exceptional abilities in the sciences or arts but don't necessarily need to be lawyers or doctors. The O visa is available if you have an offer of employment from an employer in the US.

It also allows you to apply for permanent residency after two years of continuous employment in the US. If you're already here under this visa, you can extend it by another two years if you find a new job before your current one ends.

Final Thoughts

And so we've reached the end of this high-level introduction to business visas. You should now have a better understanding of the requirements for starting a business and your visa options. If nothing else, this guide should give you a better idea of the different options that are available to you if you should decide to start a business in the US.

Economic Analysis   Lifestyle   Legal   Investing   Business   Personal Finance   Career