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.

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* 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.

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* 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:  https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/fees/treaty.html

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.

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* 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.  

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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.