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Four Visa Options for Entrepreneurs

In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks visa options for entrepreneurs.

Overview:

In this video we cover four visa options that allow foreign entrepreneurs to live and work in the United States. These visa options also allow the foreign entrepreneur to bring his or her dependents to live with them in the United States.

Option #1 L-1 Visa for Executives, Managers, and Essential Employees:

There are two types of visas available under the L-1 category: 1) L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager and 2) L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge.

The L-1A category is a non-immigrant visa classification for aliens seeking to work in the United States in an executive or managerial capacity on an assignment of a temporary nature for a U.S. subsidiary or parent company of their foreign employer.
The L-1A visa classification allows a foreign company to transfer an executive or manager to the U.S. subsidiary or parent company. If an affiliated U.S. subsidiary or parent company does not yet exist, the L-1A classification allows the foreign company to send the executive or manager to the United States for the purpose of establishing the affiliated subsidiary or parent company.
L-1B: If the alien is not employed in an executive or managerial capacity, the L-1B visa classification comes into play. To be eligible for the L-1B visa, the petitioner must demonstrate that although the alien is not employed in an executive or managerial capacity with the company, the alien possesses specialized knowledge and can represent the organization’s interests in the United States.

Both the L-1A and L-1B require the beneficiary to have worked abroad for the foreign employer for at least one year within the proceeding three years.

Pro: the L-1 visa leads to a green card

Option #2 E-2 Investor Visa:

The E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities. Investment activities include the creation of a new business in the United States or investment in an existing enterprise. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.

Requirements:

• The investor, either a person, partnership or a corporate entity, must have the citizenship of the treaty country. If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality;
• The investment must be substantial and the funds have to be “irrevocably” committed. The investment must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise;
• The investment must be in a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or mere ownership of undeveloped land are not considered an investment;
• The investment may not be marginal. The enterprise must either show a financial return that significantly exceeds what is necessary to support a living for the investor or else the enterprise must have the capacity, present or future, to make a significant economic contribution;
• The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in a commercial sense.
• The investor must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify. Please note that a detailed explanation of why the applicant’s skills are essential for the enterprise in the U.S. or why the applicant possesses qualifying “executive or supervisory: experience may be required;
• The applicant must intend to depart the U.S. when his/her E-2 status ends.

Con: You must be a foreign national from a participating treaty nation.

Option #3 O-1 Visa for Aliens of Extraordinary Ability:

Aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics who have received national and/or international acclaim in their field may be eligible for the O-1A visa category. Aliens who have received national or international acclaim for their extraordinary achievements in the motion picture, television industry, or arts may be eligible for the O-1B visa category.

The O-1 visa allows you to launch a company or work for someone else using your skills from previously achieved accomplishments.

Option #4 H-1B Visa as a self-employed entrepreneur:

In order to qualify the entrepreneur must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent related to the specialty occupation they are seeing. A self-employed entrepreneur may qualify for the H-1B visa with the appropriate academic credentials and an idea for a start-up or business venture in the United States.

Con: The H-1B visa is a lottery visa, only 65,000 visas are available per fiscal year. In addition, you may only apply for the H-1B visa once a year (in April).

For more information about these visa types please visit our website.

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