There are several visa options available to entrepreneurs, seeking to invest in the US, set up a business in the US or open a branch office in the US. In this article, we will examine a few of the main options available to entrepreneurs wishing to pursue the “American Dream” and assess the various strengths and weaknesses of each option.

Please note, not all of the options described below will be suitable for every visa applicant. If you are contemplating any form of investment or trade in the US, we would advise you to contact our team of licensed US immigration attorneys for a complimentary assessment of eligibility, prior to investment.

 

The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

What Is the E-1 Treaty Trader Visa?

The E-1 Treaty Trader visa is a non-immigrant visa, available to citizens of countries with whom the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

In order to qualify for the E-1 Treaty Trader visa, the applicant must prove, inter alia, that they are seeking to enter the US to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country of which the applicant is a citizen.

“Substantial trade” is defined as an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade items between the United States and the treaty country. In summary,  trade is considered “substantial” when there are numerous transactions over a period of time and the income derived is sufficient to support the treaty trader.

“Principal trade” between the US and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the volume of international trade of the treaty trader is conducted between the United States and the treaty country of which the treaty trader is a citizen.

It is important to note that only trade in certain types of items will qualify as “trade” for the purposes of an E-1 Treaty Trader visa application. Items of trade include, inter alia, goods, services, international banking, insurance, monies, transportation, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, tourism, technology and its transfer, and some news gathering activities.

The requirements for the E-1 Treaty Trader visa are numerous and complex; we would advise anyone contemplating an application for an E-1 Treaty Trader visa to contact us in order to discuss their options.

 

What Are The Advantages Of Applying For An E-1 Treaty Trader Visa?

  • The E-1 Treaty Trader visa may be granted to British citizens for a maximum of 5 years, subject to the strength of the application.
  • The processing time for the E-1 Treaty Trader visa is generally quicker than for some other options.
  • No investment requirement
  • Profitability requirement lower than E-2 and L-1
  • Staffing requirement lower than E-2 and L-1

What Are The Disadvantages Of Applying For An E-1 Treaty Trader Visa?

  • Substantial trade must already exist at the time of filing
  • Inappropriate for business start-ups.

For more information on the E-1 Treaty Trader visa category, please click here.

 

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

What Is The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is a non-immigrant visa, available to citizens of countries with whom the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

In order to qualify for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa, the applicant must be seeking to enter the US for the purpose of developing and directing the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested or is in the process of investing a “substantial amount of capital” in the US.

In order to determine if the investment is “substantial”, a relative/proportionate test is applied. The ratio of funds invested is compared to the total costs of creating or purchasing the enterprise. Where the total investment to create or purchase the business is low, a higher percentage of investment is required.

It is important to note that the investment involved must place lawfully acquired, owned, and controlled capital at commercial risk – with a profit objective – and such capital must be subject to loss if the investment fails. Passive investment in stocks and undeveloped land will not enable an investor to qualify for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa.

What Are The Advantages Of Applying For An E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

  • The E-2 Treaty Investor visa may be granted to British citizens for a maximum of 5 years, subject to the strength of the application.
  • The processing time for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa is generally quicker than for some other options.
  • Appropriate for new businesses
  • Generally afforded longer to build business than other categories
  • Staffing requirement lower than L-1
  • No prior employment at foreign company required

What Are The Disadvantages Of Applying For An E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

  • Investment requirement
  • Must grow business for renewal
  • One-person businesses are inappropriate

If you believe you may qualify for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa, we would advise you to contact us for a complimentary assessment of eligibility.

For more information on the E-2 Treaty Investor visa category, please click here.

 

L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

What Is The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa?

The L-1 Intracompany Transferee visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows companies to relocate certain types of foreign qualified employees to its US subsidiary, affiliate or parent company.

In order to qualify for an L-1 Intracompany Transferee visa, the visa applicant must, inter alia, meet the following criteria:

  • Was continuously employed in a full-time role for one year, of the preceding three, by a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the US petitioning company;
  • Was employed abroad as an executive, manager or in a position requiring specialized knowledge;
  • Will be employed in the US as an executive, manager or in a position requiring specialized knowledge (although it is important to note that the roles in the US and abroad need not be the same; for example an individual may have worked in a position requiring specialized knowledge in the foreign office but will be transferred to the US as a manager).

The position in which an individual will be employed in the United States determines which of the two L-1 sub-categories is appropriate. L-1A is designated for executives and managers and L-1B for those with specialized knowledge.

What Are The Advantages Of Applying For An L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa?

  • No size limitation of the company
  • No nationality requirement on the company or employee being transferred
  • No specified investment amount
  • Premium processing is available (15 days)
  • No labor certification required
  • A route to permanent residency

What Are The Disadvantages Of Applying For An L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa?

  • New office petitions are approved for one year only
  • Inappropriate for new businesses that do not have rapid growth
  • Requires considerable staffing for an established office

 

If you are an employer and wish to transfer an executive, manager and other special employee from a foreign office to a related office in the United States, please call us to discuss your options.

More information on the L-1 Intracompany Transferee visa category can be found here.

 

EB-5 Visa

What Is The EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa, which enables a foreign investor to obtain permanent resident status in the US, by virtue of investment in the US economy.

In order to qualify for an EB-5 visa, the investor must invest at least $1,000,000 in the US economy, for example, in the set-up and growth of a business. If investment is made in an area that has been designated a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the minimum investment required is $500,000. TEA areas are generally low-income and rural areas where investment is needed to boost the economy.

What Are The Advantages Of Applying For An EB-5 Visa?

  • It is an immigrant visa, so the visa holder can manage their business with relatively few visa constraints.
  • EB-5 visa holders can work for any employer, in any position.
  • The children of EB-5 visa holders are able to work and study in the US.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Applying For An EB-5 Visa?

  • Investments will qualify only if made using funds from certain sources. An investment made from an unsecured loan, for example, will not qualify.
  • Upon successful attainment of an EB-5 visa, the applicant will be awarded conditional lawful permanent resident status for 2 years. The visa holder must apply to have the conditions removed prior to the expiration of the conditional Green Card, in order to become a permanent Green Card holder.
  • Applicants may need to seek advice on the tax implications of acquiring US lawful permanent resident status.

If you wish to apply for an EB-5 visa, we recommend that you call us prior to investment in order to seek advice on your position.

More information on the EB-5 visa category is available here.

Davies Legal Immigration

At Davies Legal Immigration, we offer a “one stop shop” for all of your US business immigration needs. Our team of attorneys, an MBA, a Doctor of Business and a CPA offer a comprehensive and efficient service and provide the highest standards of client care. Call now to discuss your case with a licensed US immigration attorney for a complimentary eligibility check and receive a free, no obligation quote.

Published: 9th February 2018