Forming a successful business in the United States is one of the key elements of the American Dream. While the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers several visa options for foreign nationals seeking to be admitted to the country, it is vital to pay attention to the conditions established by each classification.
Is it possible to start a business with a work permit in USA? Read on to find out.
Foreign-Owned Business vs. Work Authorization – Understanding the Concept
US law does not restrict the ability of foreign nationals to own a US-based company – either fully or partially. Hence, non-US citizens and non-residents can choose a business structure and file for registration at the business state of formation.
However, there is a legal difference between setting up a US business and managing the company. Without work authorization, a foreign entrepreneur may enter the United States to:
- File and submit formation documents (e.g., Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization)
- Set up a business bank account
- Purchase or lease the premises where the business will operate
- Handle any tasks involved in the business creation process
The owner of a business has an interest or stake in the company, which means he or she can receive dividends. However, performing any labor for a US company requires proper work authorization.
This rule applies to management and operational tasks, including handling day-to-day operations, managing staff, actively supervising and training staff, dealing with clients, etc.
Most nonimmigrant visas have strict requirements for employment, but it is possible to find feasible alternatives to work in one’s own business without a green card.
Can I Start a Business with a Work Permit in USA? – Feasible Solutions
An excellent option for foreign entrepreneurs is the E-2 Treaty Investor classification. Despite the restriction in terms of nationality, it offers a more flexible method for applicants who do not necessarily meet the strict requirements of employment-based categories.
The E-2 nonimmigrant classification applies only to nationals of “treaty countries,” which are countries:
- With which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
- With which the United States maintains a qualifying international agreement, or
- Which have been deemed qualifying countries by legislation
USCIS requires that the applicant must “have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States.” There is no fixed threshold to define what “substantial” is, which makes the E-2 category more accessible.
E-2 investors must also “be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise.” Accordingly, they must have at least 50% ownership of the E-2 business or operational control through a leadership position in the company.
Even though the E-2 classification does not offer a direct path to a green card, there is no limit for renewals. The maximum period of stay allowed initially is two years, but investors can request extensions of up to two years each.
Do You Want to Start a US Business and Retain Operational Control? – Immediately Seek Expert Legal Guidance
A well-versed legal advisor in US business immigration law, Attorney Romy B. Jurado willingly wants to help you succeed. Contact us by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] to find the best immigration strategy for your case.