Business and Investment Visas Attorney in Florida
The population of the United States is a conglomeration of people from all over the world. This tradition of inclusion and business development is part of what has led the U.S. to be the wealthiest empire in the history of humanity. This would not be possible without the help of immigrants and nonimmigrant foreign nationals coming to the United States to start businesses, invest in opportunities and real estate, as well as positively contribute to the economy in many ways. Though the current rhetoric surrounding most forms of visas has been particularly divisive in the last few years, business and investment visas still remain popular vehicles for entrepreneurial-minded foreign nationals to participate in the American economy.
There are many types of visas for business people wishing to obtain one. However, each visa has specific requirements that must be met. If they are not, you run the risk of having your visa denied or delayed. Obtaining a business visa or investment visa can be a complex task depending on your situation. It is recommended that you connect with a reputable and experienced immigration attorney to help you navigate the visa process.
Different Types of Business & Investment Visas
The first step in taking advantage of the investment and business opportunities that the United States offers is to choose which visa is best for you. Listed below are the most common types of business visas and investment visas available.
A B-1 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa designed for those wishing to enter the United States temporarily to conduct business. Some examples of business activities allowed are consultations with business associates, attending a business event, or educationally related conference or convention. Additionally, conducting research and being involved in legal negotiations is permitted. A B-1 visa is valid for six months and can be extended just one time for an additional six months. This visa is not designed for an employee.
E-1 visas serve business persons who intend to conduct a significant amount of business/trade consistent with the treaty formed with their home country. It is designed for a national of a foreign (treaty) country to enter the United States to conduct some form of international trade on their own behalf. In some instances, employees are permitted to hold this type of investment visa. Areas of trade include but are not limited to goods, insurance, tourism, services, technology, international banking, etc. Each person with an E-1 visa must conduct 50% of its trade between their home country and the United States. This visa is initially valid for two years but can be extended multiple times as long as all requirements are maintained.
E-2 visas are for non-immigrant nationals of countries with which the U.S. has a commerce or navigation treaty. In order to be eligible for and maintain an E-2 visa, this individual must make a significant investment in a U.S. business. In order to be considered a treaty investor, you must meet the following qualifications:
- You must be a citizen/national of a country with which the United States has a treaty of commerce and navigation.
- You must be in the process of investing or already have invested a significant amount of capital into a bona fide U.S. enterprise.
- You must own at least 50% of a company or be in control of operations through a management level role while seeking admission into the U.S. to direct the investment enterprise.
Employees of some businesses can apply for this visa as long as certain qualifications are met. In general, employees of a treaty investor seeking to enter the U.S. are required to maintain the following requirements:
- Employees must be of the same nationality as the principal employer.
- The applicant’s role must be defined as an employee of the business,
- The job description must have the attributes of an executive or supervisory position and/or the employee must have unique qualifications
Investments can come in the form of money and/or other types of assets. These investments must be made with the intent of making a profit. Additionally, the investment must be subject to being lost if the business goes awry. The investments made must be to a “bona fide enterprise” that is active and has the current and future ability to financially support the visa holder and their family if necessary. Initially, E-2 visa holders are allowed to stay for a maximum of two years. However, the visa can be extended for an unlimited amount of times. Both a treaty investor and an employee of a treaty investor are only allowed to work within the capacity that they were approved of when the visa was granted. If there are any major changes in the scope of work or investment, it must be approved by the USCIS before the E-2 visa holder is allowed to continue their stay and work.
In 1990 President George Bush Sr. created the EB-5 visa program to aid in the stimulation of the United States Economy. Its aim was and still is to encourage substantial foreign investment in the economy that creates jobs and is an overall asset to the economy. Persons with an EB-5 visa must make an investment in a relatively newer commercial enterprise. Which means that it must have been formed after 1990. Commercial enterprises available for investment can include but are not limited to sole proprietorships, joint ventures, corporations, business trusts, etc. Additionally, the investment must create at least 10 new employees. The job creation requirements are somewhat malleable and can include maintaining jobs within a troubled business. If you are interested in this investment visa, you can invest 500,000 in an employment area that is in a rural area or has significant unemployment rates. Another way to obtain the EB-5 visa is to invest $1 million or more in the United States.
Applying for Your Visa
Applying for your visa can be a difficult process. If you apply for a business visa or an investment visa incorrectly, it can significantly impact whether or not your visa will be delayed and/or denied. In many cases, there are options to apply for the visa both inside and outside of the U.S., though each visa has its own special requirements. It can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to receive approval for your visa. Furthermore, while extending your visa is possible in most cases, each individual visa has varying lengths of stay and number of times that you are allowed to extend. Appropriate bookkeeping is necessary in order to obtain and maintain a visa. Though you can certainly navigate this process alone, it is best to work with a reputable immigration attorney in most cases.
When to Contact an Immigration Attorney
An experienced immigration attorney, like the ones at Florida Immigration Law Counsel, can be the difference between receiving a timely approval of your visa application and having to suffer through the malaise of delays. In most cases, a significant amount of paperwork and follow-up are required to ensure that your application process goes as smoothly as possible. Working with a reputable immigration attorney to help you in obtaining your business visa or investment visa can save you a lot of stress. Whether you plan on conducting short term business or investing a significant amount of capital into the United States, give the attorneys at Florida Immigration Law Counsel a call to schedule your initial consultation today.