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Immigration for Investors and Entrepreneurs

The United States offers several visa options for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses in this country. The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa, the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, the O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa, and the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa are all good examples.

L-1 Intracompany Transferee

The L-1 visa is generally available to executives and managers, working for a company in a foreign country, that plans to open a new branch, affiliate, or subsidiary in the United States. To qualify, the foreign worker seeking transfer to the US must have spent at least one continuous year out of the preceding three years with the affiliated foreign company. The foreign worker must also obtain a physical premises for the new US office, and ensure that within one year the US business should be able to support an executive or managerial position. At first, L-1 status is only granted for one year. After a year, the company must show that it is operating in order for the worker’s stay to be extended beyond one year.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is designed for business owners wishing to start a company in the US and who also want to actively manage and direct the operations of that business while living in the US. To qualify for an E-2 Visa, the business owner must either start or purchase a business that the owner plans to run. The foreign owner must invest a certain amount of money in the business. The invest amount varies with the type of business, but the investment must create jobs for more than just the immigrant investor and the investor’s family. Finally, the immigrant investor must be from a treaty country.

O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa

As the name suggests, this visa option is extended to entrepreneurs with demonstrable, extraordinary talents in the sciences, arts, education, or business. To demonstrate these skills, a foreign entrepreneur must show that there are published articles on their business or skills in major media, they will earn a high salary proven through contract, and that they will be employed in an essential capacity for organizations with highly-esteemed reputations.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa

The EB-5 Immigrant is the only immigrant entrepreneur option that leads to a green card directly. To obtain an EB-5 visa, an immigrant investor must invest or be in the process of investing $1 million in a commercial enterprise or $500,000 in a targeted employment area. Targeted employment areas have an unemployment rate that is at least 150% of the national average or is a rural area. An immigrant investor must show that the funds come from a legitimate source. He or she must demonstrate that the entire investment is active or at risk. The immigrant investor’s investment must be in a new or existing business enterprise. Finally, the immigrant investor must show that the investment will create 10 full time jobs either directly or indirectly.