Establishing a start-up initiative in the U.S. or expanding financial ventures there is a common business practice among investors and innovators. The U.S. attracts capital and creative ideas as it contains various tech-based, cutting-edge, and forward-thinking start-up hubs that allow rather quick access to investment, business networks, and sustainable growth. The U.S. economy also benefits from the influx of these ideas and capital, and therefore the U.S. provides investors and innovators with various temporary and permanent visas to come to America and be part of the financial success of the country.
Here in the first leg of this writing series, we will list the temporary convenient visa options for start-ups and give a brief introduction for each visa!
Temporary Visas for Start-up Investors:
- L-1A and L-1B
- International Entrepreneur Parole
O-1A Extraordinary Abilities Visa:
O-1 visa is a nonimmigrant worker visa issued to foreign nationals who have extraordinary abilities or achievements in fields such as sciences, education, business, or athletics. To be eligible for O-1A, you must be a person of either nationally or internationally acclaimed ability in science, education, business, or athletics. Internationally recognized awards such as Nobel, Pulitzer, Tony, etc. can be presented as proof of your ability. If you do not have such an award, you can still be eligible for O-1A given that you meet at least 3 of the criteria set by USCIS. To learn more about the visa, please read our O-1A writing.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa:
E-1, or Treaty Trader visa is a type of non-immigrant employment visa available to nationals whose countries hold a trade treaty with the United States. Businesspersons who seek to engage in substantial trade or participate in an enterprise that engages in trade with the U.S. can choose to apply for an E-1 visa. You also need to continue to conduct trade mainly between the U.S. and your home country and produce significantly more income than only afford you and your family. To learn more about the visa, please read our E-1 writing.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa:
E-2 is another type of nonimmigrant employment visa offered to treaty countries’ nationals who invest individually, or treaty countries’ nationals who are part of investing companies and partnerships. Eligible applicants can be owners, directors, or skilled executive workers. E-2 visa eligibility requires both you, your partner(s) (if there is any), and your company (if you are an employee of one) to be promising enough to contribute to the US economy and strengthen the financial cooperation between both parties. If the applicant applies for E-2 with a corporate entity, s/he must own at least half of the business. To learn more about the visa, please read our detailed E-2 writing.
L-1A, which is a sub-category of L-1 visa, is a type of nonimmigrant employment visa that allows either a U.S. employer to employ an executive or manager from one of its foreign offices, or a foreign company to send an executive or manager to start business operations in the U.S. L-1A Visa is particularly preferable by many start-up investors seeking to expand to the United States. To be eligible for L-1A, you must be employed by a qualifying investing corporate entity for at least one full year within the last 3 years. Furthermore, if you are an individual who is coming to the U.S. to establish a U.S. branch, your one-year employment within the last 3 years must be in either executive or managerial position. To learn more about the visa, please read our L-1A writing.
L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge Visa:
L-1B is another nonimmigrant employment visa which is the second and last sub-category of L-1. It is issued to specialized knowledge individuals sponsored by U.S. employers to be transferred from companies’ foreign offices to the U.S. offices to live and work in the United States. L-1B Visa also allows a foreign company to transfer one of its specialized knowledge employees to the U.S. to establish a U.S. branch of the company. To be eligible for L-1B, same as L-1A, you must be employed by a qualifying investing corporate entity for at least one full year within the last 3 years.
International Entrepreneur Parole:
International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP), or International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), is a special immigration program designed for start-up individuals. It differs from the above-listed visas in that it is available ‘only’ to start-up founders and investors, and therefore can be considered the closest thing to a start-up visa. On the other hand; IEP is not a visa per se, but a unique “permission of stay” or “parole” to conduct and grow start-up businesses. To be eligible for IEP, your business venture must produce a significant public benefit and you must “merit a favorable exercise of discretion”.i
What Grape Law Offers?
The U.S. is the “go-to” destination for many start-up investors and founders who are in pursuit of business growth and success. As the center of world capital, investment, innovation, and new technology production, The U.S. offers the best financial environment and networking hubs for start-up enthusiasts to achieve their bold and ambitious career goals. Furthermore, as we explained, the U.S. makes it easy for aspiring start-up individuals to emigrate to the country with a diverse set of visa and parole options.
In that regard, as a group of cutting-edge attorneys who are investors and innovators, we have the first-hand start-up experience, success insights, and legal expertise to help your venture to become “American” as well as an influencing and long-lasting brand. To begin to actualize your dreams with us, you can always schedule a meeting here!
*Stay tuned for the second leg of this writing series which will cover the permanent visa options for start-up investors and innovators!