The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has several visa options for aspiring entrepreneurs from abroad seeking to establish a business on American soil. Depending on the applicant’s circumstances, some options are far better than others.
In this article, you will find out which visa option you need to start a business in the United States.
What Visa Do I Need to Start a Business in USA? – A Realistic Overview
It is not rare to find applicants with promising business plans who fail to succeed due to the lack of knowledge of the particularities of each visa. Before taking any action, it is fundamental to consult with an expert business immigration attorney.
The USCIS has specific eligibility criteria for each visa type. Hence, some applicants might not be eligible for a specific type of visa, no matter how carefully they file the application forms and submit the document evidence.
Failing to identify which type of visa is the best option for your case will likely result in frustration and unfinished business projects.
Starting a Business in USA – What is the Best Visa for Entrepreneurs & Investors?
Choosing a specific visa category depends on the applicant’s skills, background, country of origin, and other aspects.
For example, the L-1 visa enables a foreign company that does not have an affiliated branch in the United States to send an executive or manager to establish a new office in the country.
Considering a foreign entrepreneur wants to start a company from scratch or purchase an existing business without representing a foreign company, feasible options for foreign investors include the E-2 Treaty Investor visa and the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program.
The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals from treaty countries to obtain admission into the United States upon investing a “substantial amount of capital” in a US commercial enterprise.
USCIS regulations provide that E-2 eligibility is restricted to applicants from 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
Fortunately, there is no fixed cap on how much money can be considered a “substantial amount of capital,” which offers more flexibility for applicants who do not necessarily have millions of dollars to invest in a US enterprise.
The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa that allows foreign investors to apply for permanent residency in the United States if they:
- Invest at least the minimum amount of capital required in a commercial US enterprise, and
- Plan to create or preserve at least ten full-time jobs for qualified American workers
While the EB-5 program offers several benefits and does not restrict the eligibility of nationals to specific countries, the amount of investment required must meet a minimum fixed cap.
Since March 15, 2022, the minimum investment amount for investors willing to establish a new US enterprise is $1,050,000. For those willing to invest in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the minimum cap is $800,000, which also encompasses infrastructure projects.