“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” reads the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, US immigration law is a little more complex than that. It is no longer the tired, poor or huddled masses that are prioritised through the US immigration system. Happily, excellent opportunities exist for investors, entrepreneurs and business people. However, getting hold of Entrepreneur Visas is a daunting process.
A multitude of visa categories exists for entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in the US or extend an existing business into the US. The following are some of the more popular & investor-entrepreneur visa options
The L-1 visa is an inter-company transfer visa used by corporate groups. It is commonly used by large multinational corporations to transfer key employees to the US. It can also be used by smaller businesses including those that are establishing their first operations in the US.
To qualify for the visa, it is necessary to show that the applicant has been employed by a group company outside the US for at least one year in either an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge role and that they will be employed by a group company in the US in either an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge. For new enterprises in the US, the initial visa will be limited to 1 year in duration but can be extended after that.
E-2 Treaty Investor visa
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is an excellent option for businesses that are owned and operated by UK nationals. The visa is based on a treaty between the UK and the US designed to encourage investment in each country. It requires the applicant to show that a substantial investment has been made in the US in establishing the US business. The US business should be able to support the investor as well as at least a couple of local workers. Visas can be issued for up to 5 years at a time.
Where a UK business has an existing substantial trade with the US, the E-1 visa is a very attractive option. Many businesses expand into the US because they already sell a great deal in the US. If the business can show that more than 50% of all of its international sales are sales to the US, then the E-1 visa can be a viable option.
The visa is available to UK citizens who work for UK-owned businesses. The visa can be obtained for managers, supervisors or employees with essential skills to transfer to the US to further the trade of the business. Large and small businesses can benefit from the E-1 visa. As with the E-2, visas can be issued for up to 5 years at a time.
A number of other more unusual visa options exist in addition to the above, and the above visa options can be used in a wide variety of different circumstances.