It is always exhilarating to start a business. If the new business is being set up in your home country, there is absolutely no issue and worry about your citizenship status or company formation norms. However, when you consider moving to the US to start a business or moving your existing business to the US, there are a lot of immigration processes and statutory regulations you need to comply with. This can be challenging, especially when you wind your way through the US immigration requirements. In such circumstances, it is best to align with an immigration expert and seek their advice. Besides the immigration worries and guidance for the right kind of visa, you, as the entrepreneur, will also have that corner-of-the-mind doubt about the financial viability of your business, especially now that you are moving to another country.
It is natural to feel this way since moving a business to another country will always have the ring of doubt about a wide range of financial and non-financial perspectives. Therefore, the best way forward is to seek expert guidance and support to help you navigate the correct visa process. You need to first be eligible to move to the US and then do the detailed research on where to set up the business, how to set it up, what other skill sets would be required, and how much time all this will need by the time you reach the shores of the US.
The best workable options from a US visa perspective are the L-1A visa, the E-2 visa and the E-B5 visa. What each one of these entails is :
L-1A Visa :
This type of visa is meant for those looking to move to the US through a company transfer process. This visa allows employees of an overseas company to come and work in the same company’s US office. Multinational companies or businesses can adopt this option to establish a new office or open a branch in the US.
The fundamental requirements for using the L-1A visa are :
- The business should have been established overseas at least one calendar year before the date of the application and should have a minimum of four persons in the workforce.
- The original overseas business would continue to operate in the home country.
- The principal applicant and other joint applicants, if any, must be existing employees
- working as executives or managers in the home country business.
- All applicants must accept the maximum term limit of five years as the stipulated period for the L-1A visa.
E-2 Visa :
This visa type is useful when you and your immediate family or dependents seek to move with you when setting up your business in the US. Per the conditions of this visa, you, the entrepreneur, are expected to invest a minimum amount of at least US $150,000 in the form of personal investment. The E-2 visa is meant for business setup and residence only and does not grant the applicants any provision for a permanent residency or citizenship.
The primary conditions for this visa are:
- The business being set up should have been established less than one calendar year ago and have fewer than four persons in the workforce as employees.
- As the principal applicant, you would own and operate the business in the US.
- The original overseas business would not continue to operate in the home country.
- You comply with the minimum personal investment requirement of USD 150,000 to invest in the business.
- The business you start and set up would be active and running at all times, not in the real-estate sector.
EB-5 Visa :
This visa is opted for when you, the entrepreneur, would, after a stipulated period of operating the business, seek to live in the US through a permanent residency program and thereafter seek citizenship. Per the conditions of this visa, you are expected to bring to the US a sizeable amount as the personal up-front investment guarantee, besides providing an undertaking that your business will create employment vide a minimum of ten jobs.
The primary conditions for this visa are :
- You comply with the minimum personal investment requirement of US $500,000 to invest in the new business being set up.
- Your business will create employment opportunities for a minimum of ten US jobs.
- You follow all the regulations and fulfil all the statutory compliances.
While embarking on the journey to set up a new business in the US, it will help to first decide which part of the US you intend to locate yourself. Different states in the US can have various compliances and incentive schemes, depending on the nature of your business. You might want to consider the ease-of-doing-business policies, licencing stipulations, taxation laws and franchisee policies. Many localised municipal councils offer special incentives by providing tax benefits and special subsidies, especially if you can assure them and prove that you are creating employment opportunities.