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Investors & Entrepreneurs

Temporary work visas often used by investors and entrepreneurs include the E-1/E-2 Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor visas, the L-1 Intracompany transferee, H-1B specialist/professional, and the   O-1 extraordinary ability visa.

The "Immigrant Investor" EB-5 visa, discussed below, is an option for individuals seeking permanent residency ("green cards") by investing in the United States.

Non-Immigrant Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs

E-1 & E-2 Treaty Trader & Treaty Investor

E-1 "Treaty Traders" are persons engaging in substantial trade between the U.S. and their home country.

Requirements: Treaty Trader (E-1) 

The requisite treaty exists;

The trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the U.S. must have the nationality of the treaty country;

The international trade must be "substantial" in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade;

The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that more than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant's nationality;

The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specializ ed skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify; and,

The applicant intends to depart the United States when the E-1 status terminates.

E-2 "Treaty Investors" are persons coming to the U.S. to develop and direct enterprises in the U.S. in which they are investing a substantial amount of capital.

All types of business ventures qualify, including: convenience stores, food franchises, and hotels.

Spouse employment is authorized and children may attend school.

This option may be a viable alternative if the investor is not able to pursue permanent residency under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program.

Requirements: Treaty Investor (E-2)

The requisite treaty exists;

The applicant must be a national of a treaty country;

The applicant has invested or is in the process of investing;

The enterprise is a real and operating commercial enterprise;

The applicant's investment is substantial;

The investment is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living;

The applicant is in a position to "develop and direct" the enterprise;

The applicant, if an employee, is destined to an executive/supervisory position or possesses skills essential to the firm's operations in the United States; and,

The applicant intends to depart the United States when the E-2 status terminates.

L-1 Intracompany Transferees

This visa category is available for employees who have been employed by a multinational company abroad that seeks to open new business operations in the United States or transfer the employee to an existing business that is related to the company abroad.

L-1A for Managers/Executives

L-1B for Employees with Specialized Company Knowledge

L-1 regulations also recognize a visa may be issued for opening a "new office"

H-1B Specialist/Professional

This visa category is designed to help employers in the United States meet an immediate and temporary need for labor in specialty occupations.

A baccaluareate or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement.

Jobs in "specialty occupations" include: architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts.

There is an annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas.

O-1 Persons with "Extraordinary Ability" in the fields of science, art, education, business, or athletics

This visa category is for highly talented or acclaimed foreign nationals who may not qualify in other work-related non-immigrant categories such as E, H, or L, or who wish to avoid those classifications for various reasons.

This visa is especially useful for artists, athletes, entertainers, successful chefs, and business men and women who may be lacking professional degrees.

The EB-5 "Immigrant Investor" Visa

The U.S. Congress created the EB-5 immigrant visa category in 1990 for immigrants seeking to enter to engage in a commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs.

The basic amount required to invest is $1 million, although that amount may be $500,000 if the investment is made in a "targeted employment area."

An investor's spouse and children under 21 years of age are automatically included in the EB-5 petition.

Investors may live and work anywhere in the U.S.

There are no age, language, education, or previous business experience requirements - the investor must simply have the required net worth and capital.

The U.S. Congress created a temporary pilot program in 1993, which sets aside 3,000 visas each year for people who invest in "designated regional centers." Private and governmental agencies may be certified as regional centers if they meet certain criteria.

Under the regional center program, the investor is not obligated to hire U.S. workers or manage day-to-day business operations. The program operates more like a mutual fund and leaves managing the work to others.