How Immigrants Can Launch a Company in the United States

How Immigrants Can Launch a Company in the United States


Founding a start-up in the United States can be a path to lawful permanent residency or even citizenship. For many, getting started will be little more than a matter of choosing the right visa or program and then following the steps to meet certain requirements.

Not all of these pathways require you to have a great deal of wealth, though many of them do.

B1/B2 Visas

The B1/B2 temporary visa will give you up to six months to remain in the United States. Though you cannot work or go to school on this visa, it is generally the easiest and least painful visa you can receive. 

You can use this visa to make business contacts, to do market and competitor research, and to take other steps which might make launching a business feasible. 

EB-2 (C) Visas

If you are a freelancer, independent contractor, or a consultant then you can often get this kind of visa. The easiest way is to have a Master’s degree in your field, but if your attorney can make the case that you display exceptional talent then you can use this visa to enter the United States without a job offer.

Proving exceptional ability means meeting three out of 7 criteria: a Master’s degree, at least 10 years of experience, a professional license, salary appropriate to exceptional ability, membership in professional associations, prizes and awards, or some other proof of exceptional ability. 

E-2 Visas

If you are well-off then this visa might be an option for you. It requires you to have $100,000 that you will then invest into a new business opened in the United States. 

This visa is open to residents of treaty countries. It is literally called the “Treaty Investors” visa. 

You must also show that you are entering the United States to “develop and direct the investment enterprise.” This means you’re going to have to show at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or that you will have to possess 

EB-5 Visas

This visa requires you to have $500,000 to invest. You must invest in a business in a designated rural area. A $1 million investment into a business that creates at least ten jobs can also get you this visa.

This visa gets you an immediate green card, and is available regardless of education level or current employment status. 

Other Options

Some immigrants who start businesses here in the United States first come on other sorts of visas. There are a myriad of options that can give you opportunities and which can be converted to a green card later.

To figure out which option works best in your situation, contact our office. We’ll be happy to help you evaluate your most efficient pathway to the United States. 


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