List of Best Visas for Entrepreneurs Seeking to Start-Up a Business in the U.S.A.

Call (954) 946-8130 for a free telephone consultation with a Florida immigration lawyer about your immigration goals.


1. Visa Waiver Program :

You must be from one of the 37 countries that participate in the USA’s

Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This visa enables you  to enter the US for up to 90 days for

business, tourism, visiting or pleasure. To apply for the visa, you book a flight and  apply

for your ESTA online (authorization to travel) online. Once you land in the USA, entry will be assessed at the port of arrival by Customs and Border Protection. You may not extend your stay while still in the USA.

2. B visa – for visitors:

If you wish to stay for more than 90 day on your visit, or you are from a country outside of  the VWP, you have the option of applying for a B visa at the U.S. Consulate in your home country. Although there are certain requirement, t is pretty easy to apply and you can do it online. Although you can visit the USA for business on a B visa, you cannot work in the US. Although the B visa can be issued for up to ten years, the amount of time you may spend after each entry is usually for 6 months.  Often, you may be able to extend your stay an additional 6 months without leaving the US.

3. H1B visa:

This is the basic specialty working visa. Click here for details about the H1B visa. However,  there is a quota and only 65,000 visas  issued a year and you must have at least a bachelor’s degree to apply. (Plus another 20,000 for those with Masters degrees from a US University). Click here for information about credential evaluation and substitution of experience for a degree. Applications are accepted from April 1st  each year and work may begin on October 1st of that year.  Entrepreneurs face two additional problems with the H1B.  Firstly, the H1B visa works best for large established companies because the strength of the employer company is an important factor. Thus, a new startup could face a problem. Secondly, your employment may not be in your own control  because that would constitute self-petitioning. You will need to have your investors or board hire you as an employee that is subject to termination, so it’s clear you could be terminated. Importantly, this visa is granted for 3 years initially, and can be renewed for a maximum stay of 6 years. A great bonus on the H1B visa is that you may seek permanent adjustment (“green card”) while in this status.

L1 Visa:

The L1 visa is for intra-company transfers. Click here for details about the L visa. In order to apply, you would need to have been employed by a related company in a foreign country for at least one year in the past three years  before applying to be transferred to the US company. For a newly established U.S.A. company, the initial period for the L1 visa is 1 year  but can be

renewed for up to a maximum stay of 5-7 years. Again, the L1 works best for large established companies since the financial strength of the  U.S.A. company is important in the renewal visa stage.  Again, an important bonus is that you can apply for permanent status (“green card”) during this visa. Another advantage of the L1 is that your spouse will be eligible to apply for a work authorization during your stay.

E2 Visa:

This visa is more geared towards a startup entrepreneurial venture with significant capital. Click here for details about the E visa.You must be a national from one of the countries that have a treaty with the US. The amount of money you need to invest  must be reasonable under the particular business plan.  $100,000 seems to be the “magic” number but less can sometimes work too. Two pluses here are that the visa can be indefinitely renewed so long as there are solid financials, and your spouse is eligible for a work visa too. The disadvantage is that there is no official path to a green card although lawyers have come up with some creative paths.

O1 Visa:

If you’re an alien of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics then this may work for you.  However, you will need to prove your expertise, recognition and standing in a particular field. Although this visa includes Nobel Prize winners and PhD’s there is no formal qualifications or standard defined for this visa. You have to provide evidence of your extraordinary abilities in at least three ofthe eight categories which they consider, such as awards you’ve won, articles or books you’ve written, press cuttings, etc.

 Other visas:

There are many other visas but these are the main ones of interest to entrepreneurs. If you are from Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico or Singapore then you have some more options open to you.

Call (954) 946-8130 for a free telephone consultation with a Florida immigration lawyer about your immigration goals.