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How to get an American visa if you have your own business

You are successfully doing business in your homeland, but you would like to try your hand in the USA? Or is there no large business yet, but there is a small business, many ideas and the desire to be realized in America? Or maybe you came here on a tourist visa, applied for political asylum, opened your own business here - and don't even know that you already have the right to a green card? Let's see what types of US visas entrepreneurs can count on.

Alexander Rogachev. Photos from the personal archive

Alexandra Rogacheva is a young entrepreneur from Ukraine, co-author of the popular mobile application that the company Apple recognized as one of the best in the field of augmented reality in 2017. Thanks to her "virtual tattoo salon" a person can try on any tattoo. A year and a half ago, Alexandra and her team arrived in New York for an acceleration program.

“We didn't plan to stay in the States after the end of the program, but in the process it became clear that there is much more room for growth, and it would be great to be able to be here without restrictions,” says Alexandra.

Alexander Rogachev. Photos from the personal archive

The team began to look for opportunities to gain a foothold in the United States. Turned to an immigration lawyer in New York and decided to seek O-1 visas... This is a nonimmigrant visa for talented people in the arts, sports, science, education or business. “We began to collect evidence that I meet the criteria for this visa. My petition included a list of publications about the company (over 300 articles were written over the past year, of which at least 10 were in top publications); the investments we received; letters from experts assessing my performance; proof of the popularity of the product (more than 5 million people have used our application by that time) and so on. I got a visa! ”Says Alexandra.

“The most important thing is to prove to the immigration officer that a person applying for a visa has achieved success in a certain niche and is among a very small percentage of people who have reached such heights,” says immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova, a lawyer for Alexandra.

Ekaterina has more than 15 years of experience in the immigration industry legislation, and she is sure that for almost every business you can find the right visa.

Visa L1: open a branch office in the USA

This visa can be obtained by employees who are transferred from a foreign company to a branch opened in the United States. Entrepreneurs, in fact, can translate themselves. For example, you have a small candle factory. The company, though not large, brings a stable profit, can provide business in the US for at least a year and contain its employee being transferred - that is, you.

“This visa is not issued to all employees, it can only be obtained by management personnel or professionals with specialized knowledge that are not easy to find in the United States,” says the lawyer. - This is a nonimmigrant visa, but after a year of operation of the company in the United States, an employee who was transferred as a manager can apply for a green card. Unfortunately, this privilege is not available for employees with specialized knowledge. The good thing about this visa is that it does not set a minimum funding level. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes. Such a loyal policy exists because it is believed that if foreigners open a new business and invest in it, then they potentially create jobs for American residents and citizens and generally develop the country's economy. That is why this visa does not apply to the transfer of ordinary personnel, which can be easily found in the United States. "

Immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova. Photos from the personal archive of Catherine Muratova

If a foreign citizen travels to the United States to open a new business, initially a visa is issued for 1 a year with the right to extend each time for a two-year period, until the total period of stay in the US for this visa is 7 years. If the company in the United States is already successfully operating, you can get this visa right on 3 of the year. Also, if a company has been working for more than a year, a foreign employee in a management position may apply for a green card.

E1 / E2 visa: extend at least your whole life

With this visa you will not receive a green card, but you can live in America indefinitely. Only citizens of certain countries are eligible for it. Russia is not included in this list, but Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova are included.

“The E1 visa is for entrepreneurs who trade between the United States and their country. But most often we make an E2 visa, because it is an investor visa, it does not require any ties with the homeland, except for citizenship, no trade relations, you just need to invest your capital in the US economy and do business here, ”says immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova ...

The desired amount of invested capital is small, in the 70 area of ​​thousands of dollars, the only requirement is to show the legal origin of the money. It can be not only business income or wages, but also a gift or funds received as a result of the sale of property, the main thing is that money should be received by legal means. The visa is issued for the 2 of the year and then renewed every 2 of the year. You cannot get a green card for it, but until a person takes his money from a business in the USA, a visa can be extended further.

Фото: Depositphotos

H1B Visa: Be Your Own American Employer

H1B is a traditional work visa. It is believed that it needs an American employer, but in the case of a business, you can open a company in America - it is considered a separate legal entity and will be able to sponsor its owner, provided that there is an employer-employee relationship (not a passive investor) between the company and such owner ... That is, your company can become an employer for you. This visa in the future may "grow" into immigration EB3. However, unlike other programs, there is a quota for its receipt and you can wait for a green card for it for years. On the list of immigrant visas, there are more affordable ones.

EB1 visa: hello, we are looking for talents

The requirements for this program are no different from the requirements for an O visa that was received by Alexander Rogachev. It is designed for people with extraordinary abilities in science, art, education, sports and business. The only difference is that EB1 is an immigration visa for the purpose of obtaining a green card. Requirements - to prove that a person has risen to the very top of his industry. He should not be a genius, just need to prove that his abilities are much higher than the average representative of his profession.

“The good thing about the EB1 program is that it doesn't require an American employer - a person submits a petition himself, unlike an O visa, an employer from the United States is needed there. And, of course, despite the fact that the list of evidence is the same, the quality requirement is much higher, since this visa allows you to apply for a green card, ”says immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova.

EB2 visa with National Interest Waiver: working for the benefit of the country

The EB2 immigration visa is intended for two categories of people:

a) possessing an educational degree above a university (magistracy, doctor), or

b) possessing special talents in the field of art, science, business.

Usually, this program requires an American employer. However, this requirement does not apply to foreign citizens whose intended professional activities in the United States are considered favorable for the country and society. An example is employment in such industries as business development and entrepreneurship, education, health care, science, the development of new technologies, the development of the cultural life of the country.

“In the case of entrepreneurs, it is required to prove that a person is a professional in his business and his activities in the United States will be in the interests of the country and will benefit others. Creating jobs for US citizens and permanent residents, increasing the tax base and contributing to the country's economy are good and acceptable arguments, ”says lawyer Yekaterina Muratova.

Visa EB5: for those who are already successful

The EB5 visa is a program for more affluent businessmen, this is the so-called “investor immigration”. To obtain such a visa, an entrepreneur must make substantial investments in the American economy - from half a million dollars. Plus - create 10 jobs. Entrepreneurs can invest directly in their business or through investment funds. Immediately after investing, they receive a temporary green card, and after 2 of the year, subject to the creation of 10 jobs, a permanent one.

Change the "policy" to business immigration

Immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova says: the most popular business visas are E, L and O among non-immigration, and EB1, EB2 among immigration.

“The good thing about an e-visa is that it can be extended, plus for this visa you just need to show where you got the money. It is not required to have a successful business abroad, as in the case of an L visa, that is, the process is more "straightforward" - a person invested money in a business in the United States and received an E-visa. Therefore, it is quite popular. But it does not lead to a green card, as, for example, L. But with an L-visa it is necessary that the business abroad continues to function and this fact must be confirmed with each extension of the L-visa, but with an E it does not matter. Everywhere there are nuances, ”the lawyer emphasizes.

Business visas can be obtained from being in your own country or already arriving in the US on one of the non-immigrant visas, for example, student or tourist.

If E, L and O are nonimmigrant visas, and a person must have an intention to leave the country in the future, then EB1, EB2, EB5 are immigration programs in order to obtain a green card. It is possible to submit a petition under one of the immigration programs even while in the country pending the consideration of a political asylum case. This is what entrepreneur Dmitry did. He and his wife arrived in the United States from Ukraine in 2014 - with three suitcases and two children under their arms.

Dmitry with his wife Irina. Photos from the personal archive

“In Ukraine, we have two schools operating on the Montessori system. We tried New York for our business for a long time, but in 2014, political events in the country became a catalyst, and we made a decision - if not now, then when? ”Says Dmitry. Upon arrival, the couple registered an enterprise, rented premises for a school in Manhattan and began to resolve the issue of immigration. The lawyers offered to apply for political asylum, convinced that this was the most reliable option.

Irina and Dmitry opened a Montessori school in New York and received a business visa. Photos from the personal archive

“As a result, the years passed, but there was still no interview. I was no longer satisfied with this situation, there was always a feeling of inferiority from the inability to leave, from being suspended in the air. I started looking for other options. Ekaterina was the first US immigration lawyer who convinced me that we can apply for business immigration, ”says Dmitry. As a result, just a year after the start of the process, their case was approved, and now Dmitry and his family are waiting for a green card.

Photos from the personal archive of Dmitry

According to Ekaterina Muratova, there are plenty of entrepreneurs who have been waiting for an interview on politics, although they could apply for an immigration visa. For some reason, among Russian-speaking immigrants it is considered to be a business visa as something inaccessible. Often people do not know at all about their capabilities. Therefore, if you have a business and there is a question of legalization, it may be worthwhile to seek advice from a competent immigration lawyer.

You can leave your questions to immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova in the form under the article.

Ask a question to immigration lawyer Ekaterina Muratova

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