A foreign national who owns a business in his/her home country may want to explore the following immigration options for International Entrepreneurs.
Towards the end of the Obama administration, there was a lot of excitement about the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) or Startup Visa proposed. Given the cumbersome requirements and quotas of H-1B visas, many looked to the Startup Visa to fill the need. IER would provide a renewable 2.5-year visa for an entrepreneur, who has at least 10 percent ownership interest in a startup entity that has received at least $250,000 for established U.S. investors or $100,000 or more from government grants.
The Trump administration first delayed and rescinded implementing the rule. The recent lawsuit has forced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accept these applications. However, it is unclear how long DHS under Trump will allow for IER applications to continue.
Another possible option for International Entrepreneurs is the L-1 New Office Visa. A foreign national, who worked abroad for one year in the last three years prior to applying and who starts a new office in the U.S. (less than a year old), may be eligible for an L visa. The application process also requires showing the ongoing nature of the business, financial ability and/or U.S. investment, business plan, organizational structure of the foreign entity, and employees hired.
An L-1 New Office Visa can be extended every year and can lead to a “green card” or Legal Permanent Resident Status. L visas also allow for work authorization for dependent spouse and children.
We often assist international business executives and entrepreneurs in applying for L-1 visas. Please contact our office for a complimentary consultation to see if you may be eligible for a Startup visa or an L visa.