What Type of Visa Is Required to Start a Business in the United States?

To start a business in the United States, foreign entrepreneurs have numerous visa options. Because each scenario is unique, an expert business immigration attorney is advised to determine the proper visa for each applicant.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows eligible foreign citizens from treaty countries to enter the United States in exchange for investing “substantial” cash in a US enterprise. An applicant for E-2 status must meet the following requirements:

  • Being a citizen of a treaty country with E2 status.
  • Have invested, or are actively in the process of investing, a significant amount of capital in a legitimate US-based business.
  • Enter the US only to develop and direct the proposed E2 business.

As a result, E2 applicants must demonstrate at least 50% ownership of the proposed business or operational control via a managerial position or other corporate devices.

EB-5 Investor Visa 

The USCIS allows EB-5 investors to apply for lawful permanent residence (green card) after investing in a US commercial enterprise that creates or maintains ten full-time permanent jobs for qualifying US workers.

The primary advantage of EB-5 status (with a spouse and unmarried children under 21) is that successful applicants can acquire green cards immediately. Furthermore, the EB-5 visa allows for a direct path to naturalization in the United States. Applicants must also handle substantial documentation and submit a detailed business strategy, in addition to  significant investment requirements.

Many visa applicants justify their decision not to meet with an attorney by citing financial constraints. The majority of them, though, grow to regret their decision. Even slight mistakes in a visa application may result in USCIS requests for further information, delays, or denials. Consult an experienced business immigration attorney to avoid this stressful cycle of unpleasant events.

Alvarez & Diaz-Silveira LLP is a corporate law firm in Miami, focusing on international and domestic M&A, finance, real estate and corporate immigration. For more information, visit us online or call (305) 740-1940.