Visas for Non-Citizens Wishing to Start a Business in the United States

Regardless of where you live starting a business is a popular choice. In fact, it’s estimated that there are in excess of 100 million startups every year.

With this in mind, you may wonder why anyone would want to start a business in the United States if they aren’t a citizen. After all, the internet makes it possible to trade around the world from virtually any location.

However, the US economy remains the largest in the world, starting a business based in the US means access to the entire world; this isn’t always possible if you’re looking to start up in somewhere like China or Russia.
USA Visa for non-citizens

Getting Started

The good news is that you don’t have to be a resident or a citizen to start a business in the US, however, there are different rules and regulations that must be complied with. It’s advisable to speak to a specialist in non-citizen startups.

For example, you can own a business in the US, be a shareholder, or even a director, without even visiting the US. But, you can’t be an officer of the company or actually work without having a business visa.

In fact, there are several different business visas, you need to choose the one most appropriate for your situation:
·         B1 – short term, up to 6 months. You can’t sign contracts or work in the US.
·         B2 – Tourist visa, also for 6 months and you can’t work. Although you can negotiate.
·         E1 – Allows you to trade between the US and your home country, providing your country has a trade treaty with the US.
·     E2 – If you are a citizen of a treaty country you can visit the US to start work. It is temporary but renewable.
·   EB-5 – Only given if you’re investing between 500,000 and 1 million US dollars and hire 10 employees within 2 years. After 5 year probation, you gain permanent residence rights.
·         L1 – Grants the right of transfer for an employee from a foreign company to a US one. It’s only valid for a year and can be extended 3 times.
·         H1B – this is given if you have specialist labor skills and is valid for 3 years.
·         O1 – If you have extraordinary abilities you can get this visa for 3 years.
·         TN – Temporary work visa for 3 years but is not usable for self-employment.

In effect, if you’re looking to start a business as a non-US citizen, you’ll need E2 or EB5. However, you may find it useful to gain B1, B2, or E1 beforehand to help establish the company.
It’s worth noting that an E2 visa will give you the right to reside in the US but you may need to keep an address outside of the US as well.

You can’t just apply for a visa without having adequate funding. The US will expect you to demonstrate and invest enough funds to support the business and give it a reasonable possibility of success.

You may be asked to show that these funds are irrevocably committed to the business and your potential profitability.


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