Which visa is the most suitable for your start-up?
The United States of America is a paradise for entrepreneurs. The US provides a market with a high purchasing power and full of opportunities while it prepares entrepreneurs to expand to a global market at the same time.
You need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa if you are planning to go to the US as an entrepreneur. If you already have an established business in the US, then you need to apply for an immigrant visa to live there.
There are many different visa types for entrepreneurs, each with its opportunities and requirements. Therefore, applying for the right visa type after a proper analysis is essential for your visa approval process.
All visa types and essential information about those visas are listed here. If you need more help about immigration, please read our other articles.
B-1 Business Visitor
If you are visiting the US for your business or any other business purposes, you can apply for B-1 Business Visitor Visa. (e.g., attending a meeting, or signing an agreement).
You usually get right to be in the US for six months with this visa. This period can be expanded.
F-1/OPT Optional Practical Training
You can apply for OPT visa only if you are a student with F-1 visa in the US and planning to start a business directly related to your education field right after you have graduated. Students currently studying English Language education programs are excluded.
A student with F-1 visa gets right to be in the US for 12 months if his application is approved. If he decides to study higher levels (e.g., doctoral studies for a current masters student) he gets another 12 months of OPT visa.
Students with a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) degree and also with the F-1 visa can apply for another 17 months after their visa period has been finished.
H-1B Specialty Occupation
If you are planning to work for a business you started in the US; you may have right to apply for H-1B visa on condition that you are fulfilling the requirements. Your position in this business is required to be a unique position that requires at least a bachelor’s degree, and you are expected to have this bachelor’s degree.
Holders of this visa type are allowed to work in the US up to three years. This period can be extended to 3-years-periods; however, it does not usually exceed six years. There are exceptions.
O-1A Extraordinary Ability and Achievements
If you have an extraordinary talent in the fields of science, arts, education, business or sports, and if you can prove it, you are eligible to apply for this visa when you want to start a business in the US in your field. “Extraordinary Talent” here means a top level (expert level) in a field, and it covers a low percentage of people.
This visa covers three years of work permit. It can be extended for one-year periods to let the holder of this visa complete some organizations or activities.
E-2 Treaty Investor
If you are making a remarkable amount of investment for a start-up or an already established business, you may be eligible for this visa.
To apply for this visa, the applicant should make a valuable entrepreneur investment in the US. Even though there is no minimum limit, the applicant should convince authorities that he is risking a remarkable amount of money and finances. E-2 visa, in that respect, is the closest to an entrepreneur or a start-up visa.
This investment means “moving an already established business to the US.” The applicant should be the owner of this business or have %50 of total shares at least.
If the applicant is not the owner of this business he is working for, nor does he have the stated amount of shares, it is wrong to apply for this visa type.
To apply for this visa, you should be a citizen of one of the countries that are endorsed to apply for E-2 visa or a citizen of one of the countries with which the Government of the US has an agreement of Trade and Maritime.
Holders of E-2 visa gets two years of work permit, which can be extended for 2-years-periods.
L-1 Intracompany Transferee
You can apply for this visa if you have been sent abroad for at least one year within the last three years usually by your company which also has a base in the US, and if you are now expected to work in the US base of your company. Your company should also be a sponsor for you. The transferred person should be in a management position.
This example is a typical explanation for an L-1 visa: If a software company in Turkey establishes a company in Delaware to expand to US-market, people in management positions can also be transferred to the US with the company. Then getting this visa would be easy since the company also needs a management staff in the US.
What is essential about L-1 visa is the legal equivalent of the term “manager/management.” The extent of this term is narrowed down when it comes to L-1 visa. What defines a “manager” is his responsibilities, rights, and powers.
Holders of L-1 visa get three years of work permit, one year of which is for the official applications of the office. There can be 2-years-periods of extension afterward. So, managers are given seven years of work permit, and private employees get five years of work permit in total.
EB-1 Extraordinary Ability
If you have an extraordinary ability in the fields of science, arts, education, business or sports, and if you have a national or international success to prove your talent, you can be applied for this visa. Additionally, you are expected to declare and promise that you will keep working in the field you are an expert in. “Extraordinary Talent” here means a top level (expert level) in a field, and it covers a low percentage of people.
You can apply for this visa on your own. No job offer is required.
EB-2 Classification and National Interest Waiver
EB-2 visa has two subtitles: a) professionals with advanced competencies and b) individuals with extraordinary talents in the fields of science, arts or business.
Even though a labor certification from the Department of Labor in the US is required as well as a job offer, you can be exempt from these requirements with the national interest. You can apply for this visa on your own.
EB-2 Advanced Degree Professional
You can apply for this visa if you fulfill these requirements: a) having a postgraduate diploma (at least masters) related to the fields you will work. It should be received in the US or equivalent of this diploma should be obtained in another country. b) Having five years of experience in the field, you have taken the education of in a US educational institution or its equivalent in another country.
EB-2 Exceptional Ability
If you have unique talents in the fields of science, arts or business, you can apply for this visa. “Extraordinary Ability” here means a skill that is above average, or it means having an essential specialty in one of these fields.
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