Living and working in the United States is not just for professional workers with advanced degrees or those at the opposite extreme with no skills seeking seasonal or temporary employment. Others may choose to enter to conduct short term business, or to become self employed by owning their own business. In this way, the self employed individual can obtain a visa that allows him or her to work in the United States so long as their business enterprise is thriving.
If an individual is coming to the United States to conduct short term business matters, s/he can use a B-1 visa to enter and successful fulfill their goals upon entry. This visa, which is usually not understood by many, but which gives the least amount of time in the US, is part and parcel of the B-1/B-2 visa so many travelers obtain. This visa is obtained at the US Embassy in the foreign country and allows an individual to enter and work or conduct business for up to 30 days per entry. It is a status granted at the point of entry when declaring one’s purpose for entry. That is, the traveler is usually given an option to explain that they are traveling either for business or pleasure when entering the Immigration and Customs declaration area at the port of entry. When an entrant states that the trip is “for business” and the B-1/B-2 visa is affixed to the passport, the Immigration Officer will stamp B-1 entry on the I-94 arrival record and grant 30 days permission to remain in the US to conduct whatever business the entrant is here to conduct. This visa entry is customarily used for trainings, seminars, conferences, and sometimes to work as a domestic servant for a US citizen.
Others who are more enterprising and have larger plans for longer periods of stay may obtain an E investor visa. There are two (2) kinds of E visas: a) one called an E-1 visa for those who will engage in substantial international trade, or more simply create an import export business; and b) another called an E-2 visa for those who will engage a substantial amount of capital in an active business enterprise. Individuals applying for these types of visas must be a national of a country that has a bilateral treaty with the US or other international trade arrangement with the US, such as NAFTA. These visas usually last for up to 2 years but are extendable in one year increments so long as the business enterprise is functioning. A business cannot be passive. The investor in the substantial trade must have at least 50% volume with the United States and the case of a joint venture, 50% of the stock must be owned by a national of a treaty country. In the case of capital investment, as is the E-2 visa, the investor must have personal assets or funds at risk of loss. Also, the investment must be proportional to the cost of purchasing or creating the enterprise and the investor must present a plan to be self sustaining beyond just generating income to support the investor and his/her family. The investor must manage and direct the business enterprise and have a controlling interest in the business. Any foreign employees of the investment enterprise also seeking to enter the US to work must be executives, supervisors, or essential employees with special knowledge about the business. The spouse of an E visa holder can obtain an employment authorization document or work permit independent of the principal E applicant and their children can attend school without a change of status. Children, of course, must be under age 21.
While B-1 or E visas cannot lead to permanent residency, only one type of investor visa can, that visa is the alien entrepreneur visa. The alien entrepreneur visa is for investors who have capital of at least one million dollars (US$1,000,000) to invest and who employ at least 10 US citizen workers or legally authorized US workers. The business enterprise must be a new creation and the capital must not be derived from loans. The investment must be at risk and the investor must show the source of funds. Joint or multiple investor partnerships require that each investor meet the US$1million investment and 10 US employee requirements. Once the entrepreneur has the business enterprise, s/he can apply for conditional resident status under the fifth preference employment based visa category (EB-5). Upon completion of two years as a conditional resident, then s/he can apply to remove the conditions on residency by provide updated information about the investment enterprise.
Attorney Nadine A. Brown practices Immigration Law in the Greater Orlando, Florida area. She has practiced Immigration Law for approximately 8 years, 3 of which was as the supervising attorney for the Catholic Charities Immigration & Refugee Services and the last 4 in private practice. Her firm was established in 2002 and her cases involve issues relating to asylum, citizenship, consular affairs, deportation, residency petitions, student and business visas, and visa extensions or changes of
status. She handles all cases personally. Questions can be sent to [email protected]
Please visit her website at: www.nadinebrownpa.com