8 ways to get a visa in the US to start a business

Unlike what happens in other countries, today the United States does not have a visa specifically designed for foreign entrepreneurs to create a startup company.

There is much talk about creating it and even President Barack Obama has referred to it. But the truth is that he has no power to do so.

While Congress does not act and create that visa, the options that exist at the moment are varied. Each future entrepreneur must study in detail which one best fits their profile.

In addition, this is a very delicate matter, complicated to deal with Immigration, so it is essential to consult with a good immigration lawyer who is an expert in this type of case.

To consider
Once the visa is obtained - temporary or permanent (green card) - it must be clear that the business can be established in any of the 50 states of the American Union or in any of its territories, such as Puerto Rico .

When creating a company, one of the elements to consider is how many taxes are paid. The territories do not pay federal taxes. And in the states there are big differences in the state and local tax burden.

These are the states in which more and less taxes are paid. In addition, it is always of interest to know in which states it is easier to do business and in which states it is more difficult.

You also have to take into account what legal form you want to give the company since there are 10 possible types of companies in the USA.

Then we begin to explain each of the 8 options for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain a visa to start their business in the United States.

1. B-1 business visa: requirements, features and disadvantages


The B-1 business visa is used to enter the United States to hold meetings with future clients, prospective employees, learn about laws, costs, marketing plans, attend conferences or congresses, etc.

If you have the idea of ​​creating a business in the United States, it may be a good option as a first step until you have clear ideas and decide if you want to continue with the project.

With this visa you can usually be in the United States for a maximum of 180 days in a row. Although I-94 should always be consulted, since it is possible that the allowed period is shorter.

It is the appropriate visa when it is required to enter the United States for an investment or for a business-related matter but you do not want to reside regularly in the United States.

To consider
With the B-1 visa you cannot work in the United States, either for another company or for yourself. If Immigration detects that it has worked, the visa will be canceled.

It is very common that people who have a tourist visa B-2 also have a B-1 since they are often issued jointly.

Finally, citizens of the Visa Waiver Program countries can enter the United States for business activities without a visa, but their stay cannot exceed 90 consecutive days.

2. L-1 visa for entrepreneurs who want to create a company in the USA

If you already have a company created and operating in the country of origin and you want to create a subsidiary or subsidiary in the United States, the L-1 visa may be an option.

This visa has important requirements and papers about the company in the country of origin will be requested, such as income, amount of money in the bank, employees, etc.

In addition, it has limitations to take into account in terms of the time that can be spent in the US with that type of visa and also about the type of work that can be done within the company that is founded in the USA.


L-1 visas are often widely used by entrepreneurs in countries that do not have an investment visa agreement with the United States and, therefore, cannot opt for E-2 visas, such as the case of Venezuelans or Brazilians .

3. E-2 and E-1 visas to create or buy a business in the United States

By treaties, there are two possible visas for investors in the United States, the E-1 for merchants in import / export businesses and the E-2 for other types of companies. They are similar but different visas.

E-2 Visa for investors
Citizens of countries included in a list created by Congress or that have a trade or navigation treaty with the United States can benefit from the E-2 visa of investors by treaty.

Currently, citizens of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Spain, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay can apply.

With this visa you can create a business from scratch or create an existing one. Here you can see a list of 21 types of real businesses belonging to holders of these visas. In the case of having a real estate investment, it could be converted into a business in order to qualify for this visa.

It is an option but it also has important limitations. These are the 10 things to know about the E-2 visa.

Also of interest is knowing how much to invest, to which the law only says that it must be a substantial amount. But how much is considered sufficient investment to get the approval of an E-2 visa?

For those interested, here is more detailed information on how to understand the investment, how much money should be disbursed and how much can be in the bank and how much can be the cost of a lawyer.

Also included is the complete list of countries that have such a treaty with the United States, which may be interesting in cases of dual citizenship.

E-1 visa for merchants under treaty
People from certain countries with an EU treaty that already have an import / export business for goods or services could benefit from an E-1 visa.

4. Create a business in the United States with an OPT

If you are an international student with an F-1 visa and are eligible for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, you can start a business during that period.

You have to take time limits into consideration. Therefore, it is really important to consult with a lawyer and see what are the possible options once the OPT ends.

When an OPT is not possible

Students of English language training programs cannot enjoy OTP.

5. Create a company with a visa OR for extraordinary skills

If you are a person with extraordinary ability and can prove it you can apply for an O-1A visa.

If it is approved, a business can be founded in the field in which you have the experience for which the visa has been given.

Areas in which you have to be an expert for a visa OR
It is necessary that the extraordinary ability be in one of the following fields:

Arts
Sciences
sports
Education
Business
In addition, visas are approved for a period of three years. But then they are renewable for one year as long as necessary to continue or complete the activity.

6. H-1B visas to create a business by professionals

Professionals who have full bachelor's degree studies or equivalent can apply for an H-1B visa.

Or they can create their own company that hires them as professionals in their field of expertise.

Advantages and disadvantages of the H-1B visa to create a business
It is a double-intention visa, that is, unlike what happens with other visas, there is no need to show intention to return to the country of residence. It also allows you to search more freely and without restrictions for a green card.

They are visas that are given for an initial period of three years expandable to six, although sometimes it can be extended more.

Its number per fiscal year is limited, so if it does not fall within the exception of a company or research institute it can be very difficult to obtain one, precisely because they run out very quickly and you have to wait for the next fiscal year for more visas available.

Finally, it should be noted that although it is far from impossible, it is difficult to obtain the H-1B in this way so that the company that is created sponsors the owner of the same due to the requirements that Immigration asks the company to be able to hire, fire workers, including the founder.

As for the type of companies that can sponsor an H-1B, there are all kinds of them, although large and those of the engineering world predominate.

7. Create a company with an EB immigrant visa

EB visas are to move to the United States as an immigrant. They are not temporary visas, but they open the door to a residence card.

With the following options you can get and, once you have it, you can start, if desired, a company:

EB-1 for people with extraordinary ability in the Arts, Sciences, Sports, Education or Business.
EB-2 for professionals with advanced studies and people with exceptional ability in the Arts, Sciences or Business. If they get a waiver for national interest, they do not need to obtain labor certification from the Department of Labor.

8. Create a business and get papers in the United States for investment

It is possible to obtain permanent residence (green card) through an investment of a large amount of money.

There are three options to obtain permanent residence by investment:
Investment of one million dollars anywhere in the United States or territories. You can create the business or buy it.
Investment of half a million dollars in areas listed by Immigration as depressed.
And a modality of the latter, investment of $ 500,000 in a project in a Regional Center approved by Immigration. This is a comfortable option, mainly for people who have no experience in the United States or with business. However, as there have been significant problems, it is advisable to inform yourself well before choosing this option and avoid mistakes when choosing a Regional Center.
To consider
The residence cards obtained by investment known as EB-5 are, initially, temporary for two years.

It is necessary to raise the conditionality to obtain the definitive green card. If you obtain the residence at five years, you can apply for American citizenship by naturalization.

Final thought
Whichever path is chosen to try to obtain the papers to create a business in the United States and reside in the country, it is very important to know the answer to the most important questions that all potential migrants should know. They will make the visa much easier.

This is an informative article. It is not legal advice.
8 ways to get a visa in the US to start a business 8 ways to get a visa in the US to start a business Reviewed by Mr T on September 28, 2019 Rating: 5

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