The American Gateway for Entrepreneurs

The American Gateway for Entrepreneurs

Introduction:  I counsel entrepreneurs and investors as part of my immigration law practice, and I derive great satisfaction from finding creative, cost-effective solutions for my clients, whenever possible.  In this post I will review a few potentialUS visa options.

US immigration law offers several alternatives to individuals and their families who wish to relocate to America.

* Permanent residence – “EB-5″ program:  For investors with deep pockets($500,000 to $1 million), the EB-5 employment-creation visa for permanent residence offers a two-step program.  In my opinion it is an overly complicated and challenging option.  For example, it requires ongoing employment of at least 10 workers, in addition to the high-level initial investment.


* L” visa for “Long-distance” transferees, and transition to permanent residence:  I consider it an intelligent, cost-effective alternative to “the EB-5” for foreign entrepreneurs small-business owners who are looking to expand, from existing and ongoing overseas operations, to a branch or subsidiary in the United States.  The “L-1” visa can offer a relatively direct, common-sense platform for the initial, “new office” stage, with renewal of the visa after successful operations in the first year, and then a transition to permanent residence.  

In short, the L-1″ visa may provide a relatively affordable a for many entrepreneurs and smaller employers, and their employees.  Incidentally, “L” visa spouses are eligible for unrestricted, temporary work permits.


* E” visa for “Entrepreneurial” investors and traders and employees, with limited access to permanent residence:  The key ingredient is a “treaty of commerce and navigation” between the United States and the individual’s home country, of which there are several dozen.  For example, the United States – United Kingdom treaty dates from 1815.  Click on this link for a listing of “treaty” countries for “E-1” (trader) and “E-2” (investor) visas:

An “E” visa is requested directly through a US embassy or consulate, upon its registration and approval of the proposed American enterprise.  Generally a minimum investment of about $100,000 is required, but the law allows for flexibility, based upon the proportional capital needs of a start-up.  The “E” visa is renewable; however, the transition to permanent residence may be problematic, without the presence of a related foreign operation.

“E” visa spouses are eligible for work permits in this visa category as well.


* Limited options for retirees:  Americans are known to be friendly to older visitors, but our immigration system does not accommodate them, apart from vacationers and seasonal “snowbirds.”  Without proper immigration planning, a vacation home in Colorado or Florida will have to be vacant most of the year.

As part of an immigration retirement plan, consider the “E” visa, which can support a retail franchise or other small business which will create jobs locally.  A franchise-type investment — consider the fast-food industry — could generate jobs for US workers while supporting “E” visas for family members, for example in supervisory positions.  


This post contains is provided for general information only.  It is not legal advice.  No attorney-client relationship is intended.  Consult a lawyer for specific legal advice.