Business immigration for
Entrepreneurs and Investors
The U.S.A. actively promotes investment to its economy, giving benefits to business people ready to invest. That’s why business moving to the U.S. by establishing a U.S.-based company is so popular. Establishing a business gives a perfect opportunity to settle in the U.S., as well as impressive financial prospects if wisely invested.
There are several options for starting a business in the U.S. and obtaining a business visa or investor visa for this purpose. If you have a thriving business outside of the States, unencumbered financial resources, a desire to enlarge your company or to buy a shelf-company or initiate a startup, and if you have wish to immigrate – the following visa types may be your best opportunities:
Having some business in the U.S. does not guarantee an investor the U.S. visa. However, to apply for one of the above-mentioned visa categories, a company must be duly established in the U.S., registered at the Internal Revenue Service and have an account at an American bank. A non-resident should use services of a registered U.S. agent.
EB-5 program for big investors
The U.S. started the EB-5 program for immigrant investors at the early 1990s. An entrepreneur may apply for an EB-5 visa and, after having met the conditions, a Green-Card.
Up to 10 000 EB5 Visas may be granted annually.
The program is preferable for investors planning significant long-term financial investments to the U.S. economy and migration to the country for permanent residence.
Major investment and EB5 visa eligibility conditions
A visa of the category presupposes an investment of no less than $800,000 dollars (15 March 2022 the minimal investment was increased to $800,000 from $500,000) by one of the two options:
establishing your own U.S. based company
investment through third-party companies or specialized Regional Centers
An essential condition of the program is that a company must provide 10 or more new jobs for American citizens with not less than 35 work-hours a week.
The government obliges a non-resident businessman to use only legally-gained financial assets. The legal background of the assets must be proven. If the investment capital was accumulated via credits, personal assets of the investor must serve as assets backing.
Money to be invested must be transited from the investor’s personal account.
EB-5 program advantages for an investor:
- An EB-5 visa gives an investor many benefits identical to those of permanent U.S. residents (state schools, higher education establishments, medical services, different social payments);
- Having a visa of this type, an investor can freely enter the U.S. for personal or business purposes;
- An entrepreneur is not obliged to stay at the U.S. territory and personally maintain company’s functioning;
- There are no legal requirements for an investor regarding education or English language proficiency;
- Upon the investment agreement termination (generally 5-6 years) an entrepreneur may divest his financial means from the business;
- EB-5 category visa is a straight path to a Green Card, for the investor his spouse and unmarried children under 21.
Obligatory requirements for the EB5 investor on the visa application:
To receive the EB5 visa an investor must meet several requirements regarding his business, his personality and his family members, if they apply for the visa too.
The primary information is identical to those required by the immigration office for every person entering the U.S.: absence of criminal records and connections with terrorist groups, etc.
An entrepreneur must provide documents proving the establishment of a company with the intent to create a minimum of 10 job, and documents proving a legal background of finances used for the investment.
If the investment is made in designated low-employment rate regions (Targeted Employment Areas), the minimum EB-5 investments is $800,000. Otherwise, the minimal sum is $1,050,000 (since 15 March 2022).
High unemployment level regions are not always situated in the remote areas of the country. They might be in some highly-populated areas such as San Francisco or New York.
Establishing your own company, or invest in the existing one?
The majority of entrepreneurs invest though special establishments licensed by the government – Regional Centers. They are created to boost employment within a determined geographical territory and by aggregating investments by foreign investors into much larger economic entities.
With these options, non-resident business people are given ready-made investments plans with the opportunity to pick the most appropriate project. This might be a restaurant, a fast-food place, a dry-cleaner, or a medical center. It could also include construction of hotels, dockyards, residential estates and shopping malls. However, it should be understood, that many of the projects may not be lucrative for a foreign investor.
The number of regional centers has significantly increased year by year. There were only 11 in 2007. By the end of 2017 more than 900 centers were at investors’ disposal. So the choice is wide.
Starting your own business from ground zero in an unknown country might seem risky, but this is the best way to pair revenue generation with immigration intentions. A bit of your own labor along with the advice and help of ACS Law Offices, Inc. professionals will make dreams come true.
E-2 Visa for small businesses owners
Business people planning to invest a small amount of money and establish their own business or invest into a running enterprise as a partner may find the E-2 visa option suitable.
The E2 is not an immigration visa. It is granted for a two-year term and does not lead to the permanent residency status, but there is no limit to the number of times the E-2 visa may be extended. E-2 visa holders may stay in the U.S. as long as they need, as long as they abide by the conditions of the visa, i.e., while their business is successfully running in the U.S.
Requirements for E-2 visa applicants
Issuance of an E2 visa is based on international agreements between the United States and a range of countries whose citizens can apply for the E2 investor visa. The list of countries is relatively small. Unfortunately, Russian Federation, India, China, Vietnam, Kenya, Nicaragua and other countries are included in these agreements. E-2 visas may be granted to residents of Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Ukraine, Canada, United Kingdom, South Korea, Mexico, Germany, Turkey and Grenada.
A minimal amount of investments is not specifically defined by law. The requirements for establishment and functioning of a new enterprise are broad enough to cover a wide range of circumstances:
- an enterprise must operate and provide enough income to provide normal living conditions for an investor and his family;
- the entrepreneur must personally govern the company;
- investment means are to be legally earned and an investor must have provable financial assets as well;
- the amount of direct investments must provide for investor's liabilities as to fully run the business activity of a company.
Advantages of E-2 for an investor:
- less financial investments when compared to an EB-5 visa;
- a wisely established enterprise may bring considerable revenue. The income raised may be invested in a business later so that the E-2 visa may be transited into and EB-5 and a Green Card obtained;
- an investor and members of his family may reside within the U.S. and enter and exit freely , Investor spouses are free to work, and children under age 21 to get a U.S. education;
- the E-2 visa application processing period is short – 15 calendar days.
L-1 visa for running a business in the US
L-1 visa is the best option for entrepreneurs who haven’t determined whether they want to immigrate to the U.S. yet. It provides temporary residence in the U.S. to run a company but, at the same time, presupposes the possibility of immigration.
The L-1 visa is best-suited for employees with leadership roles in a company situated outside the U.S. Such specialists may be transferred to branch offices established in the U.S. A non-resident company owner may even open an American office and appoint himself its chief executive.
An essential requirement is that the L1 visa applicant must work in a leading position (for example, a chief executive, a vice president, or a general manager) and have a continuous work experience in a managing position at the head company outside the U.S. for not less than one full year during last three years.
While applying to the immigration office for the L1 visa, one must provide information, proving the ongoing commercial activity of a non-resident company, its financial ability to maintain an American office, the existence of available space for the office and documents, and define the managerial position of the candidate.
L-1 visa advantages:
- fast visa application processing (15 calendar days);
- free to enter and exit the States; unlimited sojourn time in the U.S. during the visa validity term;
- permission to move to the States for the applicant and his family. The applicant’s family members may work and study in the U.S.;
- active participation in the business and revenue from commercial activities;
- a possibility to extend the visa, transit it to the EB-1C or EB-2 visas, and later to obtain the Green Card.
EB-1C visa for successful businessmen immigration
Entrepreneurs – owners of a thriving business, corresponding to several criteria (prominence, broad appreciation, wide turnover, high profits, production of unique goods and services), have an opportunity to enlarge their company’s presence on the American market and move to the U.S. on the EB1C visa.
An EB-1C visa is similar to the L-1 visa. It is given to executives and managers of large companies who are transferred to work at an American branch of a head office. This is a work visa, not an investment visa.
A non-resident company must hold more than 50% of the affiliate company assets.
First steps on business immigration to the U.S.
Deciding what kind of business to establish, where to locate it, and which is the best visa to achieve the desired results can be difficult. The advice of specialists and Immigration Lawyers at ACS Law Offices,Inc., who have longstanding practical experience on issues of company establishment and American visa provisions can help to answer many questions when planning a new U.S.-based business.
Сompany ACS Law Offices,Inc., being a registered agent and having Immigration Lawyers employed, provides corporate and immigration services including assistance with a new company’s business-plan development, business registration, bank account opening, procurement of approval documents from local authorities, execution of essential documents for visa application and complex immigration process coordination.
An initial consultation on immigration will help an entrepreneur decide if he should use the EB-1C immigration visa or the L-1 category visa first. With regard to the longer EB-5 application period, specialists will advice what visa permits to use to enter the U.S. as soon as possible (E-2 or L-1) while waiting for the EB-5 visa approval. Sometimes, it is better for an entrepreneur to apply for an EB-1C visa first. ACS Law Offices experts can help you make the best choice.