Below is a menu of potential visa pathways for foreign entrepreneurs:
The immigrant visa pathways may allow foreign entrepreneurs who have already started or are about to start a new business in the United States to immigrate permanently to the United States.
The non-immigrant visa pathways may allow foreign entrepreneurs to explore or start a new business in the United States.
Green Card Through a Job
The main ways to immigrate based on a job offer or employment are listed below:
Green Card Through a Job Offer: You may be eligible to become a permanent resident based on an offer of permanent employment in the United States. Most categories require an employer to get a labor certification and then file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for you.
All employment Visas can be used by your own company hiring you.
EB-1A Extraordinary Ability (EB = Employment Based) is an Immigrant Visa
You may be eligible for the EB-1A extraordinary ability immigrant classification if you have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics as demonstrated by national or international acclaim and recognized achievements in the field of experience. In addition, you must show that you will continue working in your area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability means that your level of experience shows that you are one of the small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of your field. You may self-petition as an extraordinary ability individual since a job offer is not required for this classification. (See more)
EB-2 Exceptional Ability (EB = Employment Based) is an Immigrant Visa
This category is for professionals with advanced degrees and individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business generally.
1. Requires a job offer and
2. Labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL).
The labor certification process exists to protect U.S. workers and the U.S. labor market by so that foreign workers wishing immigrant visa classifications are not displacing qualified U.S. workers. (See more)
EB-3 Skilled, Professionals and Other Workers (EB = Employment Based) is an Immigrant Visa
You may be eligible for this immigrant visa preference category if you are a skilled worker, professional, or other worker.
1. “Skilled workers” are persons whose job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience,
not of a temporary or seasonal nature
2. “Professionals” are persons whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign
equivalent and are a member of the professions
3. The “other workers” subcategory is for persons performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years
training or experience (See more)
EB4 Special Immigrant (EB = Employment Based) is an Immigrant Visa
You may be eligible for an employment-based, fourth preference visa if you are a special immigrant. The following special immigrants are eligible for the fourth preference visa:
1. Religious Workers *
3. Iraqi/Afghan Translators
4. Iraqis Who Have Assisted the United States
5. International Organization Employees
7. Armed Forces Members
8. Panama Canal Zone Employees
9. Retired NATO-6 employees
10.Spouses and Children of Deceased NATO-6 employees
EB5. Immigrant investment Visa. Please click here
NON IMMIGRANT VISAs
O-1A Extraordinary Ability and Achievement non Immigrant Visa
You may be eligible for an O-1A visa if you have extraordinary ability in:
which can be demonstrated by sustained acclaim and recognition, and you will be coming to the United States to start a business in your field. Extraordinary ability means you have a level of experience indicating you are one of the small percentage of people who have risen to the very top of your field.
Initial period of stay in the United States: Up to 3 years. May extend or renew the period of stay in 1 year increments as necessary to complete or further the event or activity.
The H-1B visa (Specialty Occupation) (H=Hire) non immigrant visa
The H1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa category for temporary workers. For such a visa, an employer must offer a job and apply for your H1B visa petition with the US Immigration Department.
You may be eligible for an H-1B visa if you are planning to work for the business you start in the United States in an occupation that normally requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in a related field of study (e.g., engineers, scientists or mathematicians), and you have at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a field related to the position.
Initial period of stay in the United States: Up to 3 years. Extensions possible in up to 3 year increments. Maximum period of stay generally 6 years (extensions beyond 6 years may be possible).
This Visa is by far the most widely used visa by U.S. firms to hire skilled foreign-born workers, is invalid if visa holders leave or lose their job. That means immigrant entrepreneurs must keep their day jobs while working to launch their own ventures. The same is true of most green-card applicants. Other employment-based visas require high upfront investing into a U.S. venture.
In order to issue an H-2B certification to an employer, the Department of Labor (Department) must determine that:
1. There are not sufficient U.S. workers who are qualified and who will be available to perform the
temporary services or labor for which an employer desires to hire foreign workers, and
2. The employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly
employed U.S. workers.
There is a potentiality of an employee becoming a permanent employee with the filing of
Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS
L Visas (L = Labor) non Immigrant Visa
The L1 visa classification is divided into two separate visa classifications,
1. L1-A for managers and executives and
2. L1-B for an employee in a specialized knowledge capacity.
L-1 Intra-company Transferee non Immigrant Visa
1. A Labor Certification is not required
2. Allows a qualifying organization to petition for an alien who within the preceding three years has been
employed abroad for one continuous year by a qualifying organization to be admitted temporarily to
the United States to be employed by a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of that employer in a
managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.
3. The qualifying organization may be a new office that is being opened or a pre-established office
in the U.S.
4. The employer may petition for an employee through an individual petition process or through a
blanket petition process.
5. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for an L- 2 visa.
L1-A Managerial and Executive non Immigrant Visa
The L1-A is the classification for intra-company transferees who are coming to the United States to work in a managerial or executive capacity. Managerial capacity means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:
1. Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
2. Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or
manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the
3. Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions, or if not
directly supervising employees, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or
function managed, and
4. Exercises discretion over the day to day operations of the function for which the employee has
Means an assignment within the organization in which the employee:
1. Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
2. Establishes goals and policies;
3. Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision making; and
4. Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors,
or stockholders of the organization.
5. Maximum period of stay: An L1-A has a maximum stay in the U.S. of 7 years.
L1-B Specialized Knowledge non Immigrant Visa
Is the classification for intra-company transferees who are coming to the United States to work in a specialized knowledge capacity.
Specialized Knowledge Capacity is defined as specialized knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.
Maximum period of stay: An L1-B has a maximum stay in the U.S. of five years.
TN Visas (TN = Trade National) non Immigrant Visa
A Canadian or Mexican citizen may work in the U.S. under NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement is an agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico designed to remove tariff barriers between the three countries.) A NAFTA TN visa status allows for lawful permanent residence. With careful planning a Canadian or Mexican citizen may both file for a green card and continue to work in the U.S. under TN visa status until the green card is issued.
A TN visa professional must maintain bona fide non immigrant intent. Under the U.S. immigration NAFTA regulations a TN applicant cannot intend to establish permanent residence in the U.S. and must satisfy the inspecting officer that the proposed stay is temporary and has a finite end. This means a TN visa professional must intend to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of the TN employment. In immigration parlance, this means that the concept of dual intent does not apply to TN visa status.
Immediate Visit Must be Temporary; Future Immigrant Intent Permissible.
The requirement to maintain bona fide nonimmigrant intent does not mean that a TN applicant cannot simultaneously apply for permanent residency (i.e., a green card) while in the U.S. under valid TN visa status. The regulations do not prohibit an applicant for a TN visa from possessing intent to immigrate in the future: “An intent to immigrate in the future which is in no way connected to the proposed immediate trip need not in itself result in a finding that the immediate trip is not temporary. An extended stay, even in terms of years, may be temporary, as long as there is no immediate intent to immigrate.” 9 FAM § 41.59 N5.
An Employment Based Green Card Application Does Not Grant Immediate Access to Permanent Residency.
TN visa professionals who file employment based green card applications do not generally have immediate access to lawful permanent residence status. The permanent residence process for employment based green cards includes a three-part procedure involving
(1) Permanent labor certification (PERM);
(2) the filing of a petition for immigrant worker to the USCIS; and
(3) (a) filing an application to adjust status or (b) obtaining an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. The procedure from the step one PERM process to the step three issuance of a green card can take several years.
NIW. National Interest Waiver Please click here.
USCIS changes things from time to time. We will be happy to provide you with the latest when you contact us.
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