The article discusses the visa options to start a business in USA. The United States is the country with the largest economy in the world. Consumer demand for goods and services in the country is strong, reaching approximately $17 trillion per year in June 2022. In addition, the business climate is favorable, with manageable regulatory regime in most states and an advanced judicial system which protects the rights of both foreign and domestically owned businesses.
As such, there is no surprise that entrepreneurs and investors from all over the world are looking to start a business in the USA. However, that raises the question: what visa do I need to start a business in USA?
What visa do I need to start a business in USA?
The important question is do I need a visa to start a business in USA? For those investors and entrepreneurs from countries that are on ESTA or have visa-free travel to the USA for tourism and business purposes, it is possible to enter the USA, register a company, negotiate contracts and hire US managers and employees to run the company.
The same is possible for those holding a B1/B2 visa. However, the B1/B2 status given to ESTA holders, Canadian citizens and B1/B2 visa holders does not allow for productive work from US territory.
Basically, an individual in B1/B2 status can take steps towards starting a business in the USA but cannot manage the operations of that business or run the day-to-day operations while in the United States without a visa that gives them a right to work.
The only option in B1/B2 status is to either pursue a different US visa or status that allows for the business owner to work in the US and manage and run their business from US territory or to be a passive investor.
Visa options to start a business in USA
If you want to start and manage your business in USA, the visa options to start a business in USA are:
1. L-1 visa
The L-1 visa allows a company to transfer an executive, manager or a specialized knowledge employee from one of the company’s affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.
For investors and entrepreneurs whose businesses do not yet have a working subsidiary, branch or an affiliate in the United States, the L-1 visa allows the foreign company to send an executive or manager to the United States for the purpose of setting up the new US operations. This includes sending the principal investor or entrepreneur to the US on an L1 visa. To learn more about the L-1 visa and requirements visit our L-1 visa page.
2. E-1 visa
The E-1 visa allows foreign business owners, investors and entrepreneurs who engage in substantial international trade of goods and/or services with the US to come to the country and develop their business.
To qualify for an E-1 the individual must be a citizen of an E-1 treaty country. Currently, 55 countries have a treaty with the USA for E-1 visas. If you are interested in obtaining an E-1 visa you can visit our E-1 visa page.
3. E-2 visa
The E-2 visa is a popular option for business owners, investors and entrepreneurs who make a substantial investment in a US business. It allows nationals of E-2 treaty countries to come to the Unite States with their immediate families (spouses and children under 21) to start, develop and grow their business.
The length of the visa depends on the particular treaty the investor’s home country has with US and is renewable indefinitely, as long as the business is operating and employing US personnel.
4. International Entrepreneur Rule
While technically not a visa, the International Entrepreneur Rule is suitable for entrepreneurs and especially tech entrepreneurs who were able to raise funds from qualified investors in the US to come and grow the business.
The International Entrepreneur Rule is obtained through a process which allows the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use its parole authority to allow certain noncitizens to temporarily enter and remain in the United States.
To qualify for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, an entrepreneur must hold at least 10% stake in the start-up, have an active and central role in its operations, and the start-up must have received substantial investment from investors and be able to provide significant public benefit.
You can visit our page on the International Entrepreneur Rule to learn about the requirements and process in detail.
5. O-1 visa
The O-1 visa is for individuals who have an extraordinary ability in various fields, including science, education, business, or athletics (O-1A), and the arts and motion picture/television (O-1B).
A US employer or designated agent can file for an O-1 visa for a foreign national but a foreign individual cannot file for an O-1 visa on his or her own behalf under the current regulations. However, although the foreign national cannot self-petition, a separate US legal entity owned by the foreign national may be eligible to file a petition for the O-1 visa.
To learn more about the O-1 visa you can visit our O-1 visa page.
6. EB-1C visa
The EB-1C visa is usually viewed as the next step for a manager or executive, after obtaining an L-1 visa and successfully establishes US business operations.
The program allows the foreign national to obtain permanent residence (green card) upon entering the United States with a valid EB-1C immigrant visa.
The EB-1C is for multinational managers or executives who were employed outside the United States in such positions in the 3 years preceding the petition for at least 1 year by a company that has qualifying relationship to the US employer. The multinational manager or executive must seek to come to the United States to continue working for the same firm or organization.
7. EB-5 visa
The EB-5 immigrant investor program is for investors seeking to live in the US permanently (becoming green card holders).
The EB-5 visa program is for foreign investors who invest in a US business a minimum of $1,050,000 million or $800,000 if in rural or high unemployment area and create 10 full-time US jobs.
The program is available either through a direct investment in a new US business or by investing passively in a Regional Center. A Regional Center is an investment vehicle which finances projects in the US with foreign investor money that create US jobs and help the US economy.
Our immigration lawyers can assist
If you are a business owner, investor or an entrepreneur and you need a visa to start a business in USA, contact us or book a consultation with our experienced immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA to learn about the visa options to start a business in USA and get your US business started.
Our business and immigration law firm in Miami, Florida USA provides services throughout the United States representing individuals, businesses, employers and employees across all 50 states.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers