Visas For Business Owners – Understanding Your Options
If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur looking to come to the United States to pursue your dreams, Bridgette Bennet and the team at the Bennett Law Center are here to help. Let’s discuss what visas are available for business owners, and which type of visa may be right for your specific situation.
E-1 Or E-2 Temporary Investor Visa
If you are interested in starting a new business in the US or investing in an existing US business, you may be eligible for an E-1 or E-2 investor visa. These visas are designed specifically for foreigners who are investing in a US-based business.
Typically, the E-2 investor visa is more appropriate as a visa for business owners, as it’s specifically concerned with foreign nationals who are going to “develop and direct the operations” of an enterprise into which a substantial amount of capital has been invested.
Employees, family members, and spouses can usually be brought to the U.S. using an E-1 or E-2 visa. However, this type of visa is limited to “treaty countries,” so citizens from certain countries like India and China cannot get E-1 or E-2 investor visas.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa
The EB-5 program allows foreign nationals not just to get a visa, but also to get their green card and permanent residency through making an investment in a U.S. business – providing a path toward citizenship. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 also qualify.
This program providing visas for business owners was established in 1990 in order to encourage foreign investment in the United States. The minimum investment is $900,000 in a TEA (Targeted Employment Area), or $1.8 million in all other areas, and this is subject to change every 5 years, based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
L-1 Business Expansion Visa
If you are not starting your own business, but are expanding an existing overseas business as an employee, you may qualify for an L-1 visa, also known as a business expansion visa.
This visa allows international companies with U.S. offices and overseas offices to transfer “qualified employees” to their U.S. offices. It’s primarily used to help small businesses and startups expand their businesses and services to the United States.
H-1B Specialty Occupations Visa
When it comes to visas for business owners, the H-1b is rarely used, but still bears mentioning. This temporary visa is meant for skilled, technical workers like engineers and doctors.
These visas are not usually used by startup business owners because they require corporate sponsorship. An existing U.S. company must sponsor the individual for them to qualify for a visa.
So while there are some cases where an H-1B may be appropriate for a small business owner, this is situation-dependent, and one of the previous options may be a better fit.
Learn More About Visas For Business Owners
Every business owner and entrepreneur is different, and there’s no single best visa for every situation. If you’re interested in investing in a U.S. business, expanding a foreign business to the U.S., or moving to the U.S. to launch a startup, you need expert advice to find and apply for the right visa.
The Bennett Law Center is here to provide you with the assistance you need as you navigate the U.S. immigration process. Contact us online to schedule a consultation with Bridgette Bennett and our team, and start exploring the possibilities today.