The United States has multiple Visas that are available for entrepreneurs and talent to come to the United States.  These visas are divided into two categories, depending on the purpose of the trip to the US; whether or not you are opening a business or coming to the US to work for your company as a high executive. There are short- and long-term and permanent visas.

The most common short-term visa is a simple B-1 Tourist Visa.  A businessman can stay for up to 6 months and enter in and out multiple times.

Some of the most common long-term visas are L visas (L-1A and L-1B), H visas (H-1B), E visas (E-1, E-2 and E-3 visas) and less common and more complicated O-1 visa.

  1. To get the L-1A visa is that a businessman needs to be an executive or a top manager of a company that has offices in your country as well as the United States. He/she also would have had to work at the office in a foreign country for at least a year during the last three years and they have to be sending you to the U.S. L-1B visa does not require the executive status, but involves specialized knowledge in the company’s services or products.
  2. The H-1B visa is for employees. In this visa there are a lot of requirements that need to be fulfilled: labor certifications, caps on the number of visas, etc. It is very difficult to meet that requirement as the H-1B visa must have the Employer-Employee relationship, i.e. the employer must have the right to control a foreign business. In other words, the entrepreneur must not have a controlling interest in the petitioning company. The H-1B visa’s duration is 3 years.
  3. The E-2 visa, is the Treaty Investors visa, all you will need is to invest a substantial amount into the business and be from a country that is on the list of treaty investors. For example: if you are from Australia then you can apply for the E-Visa since the country is in the Treaty of Investors, but for the person that is flying in from India, unfortunately that will not be the case since India is not in that list of countries.
  4. The O-1 visa is for people with exceptional abilities, which can also include dong business. For example if you made a social media that has been shown to be popular on the App store and has great reviews you can apply for this visa. You will need an U.S employer to sponsor you in order to get your business started. The O-1A visa only lets you stay in the United States up to 3 years.

There are other options that you have for coming into the U.S for example the J1 or F1, but they are less straightforward for an entrepreneur.

The Immigrant (permanent) solutions include: the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-5.

The immigrant visa is issued to a person who intends to reside in the United States permanently.That this visa is harder to get since there is a limited amount available and it is a high likely hood of being placed on a waitlist until one becomes available for you (depends on the visa category and the country of origin.The non-immigrant visa is issued to a person with a permanent residence outside of the United States but who wants to come to the United States for a temporary set of time. It is more easily available for you, however these visas do not allow work and are only made for a certain amount of time for you to be in the United States.

1. EB-1

There are two applicable subcategories here:

  • EB-1 Extraordinary ability visa.

This avenue can be pursuit by the most successful established entrepreneurs. To qualify the product or service that a business is offering should be very successful and have gained a lot of publicity on the market before applying for the EB-1 E11.  Immigration Benefits.  In short, the business itself must be pretty extraordinary.

  • EB-1 Multinational Manager.

If a businessman has been performing managerial duties in a different country, there is a possibility to use the EB-1 fast track green card process.  The requirements are similar to L-1A New Office Visa.  You can find more information on it here. and more general information is available here.

2. EB-2 

The EB-2 visa category provides permanent residency in the US.  It is hard to use this category for a new business but once a solid financials are established, there are several ways to obtain a green card through this category.

3. EB-5

EB-5 is an Immigrant visa that asks you to invest $1,000,000 in to a U.S business. If the business is in a rural area then you can invest a minimum of $500,000.If you do not have that amount of money you can apply for an EB-2 C visa which is an “employment visa”, but under this variety you do not need to have an employer, but what you will need is a degree of higher education or some expertize in your field of work. The EB-5. Please find more information here.

Please contact our firm’s immigration attorneys in Washington, DC for more information.