immigrant entrepreneur Sergey Brin of Google

How to Start a Business in the United States: Entrepreneur Visa Options

immigrant entrepreneur Sergey Brin of Google
Sergey Brin, immigrant founder of Google

At Donnelly and Associates, our highly experienced team is here to help innovators and creators experience the smoothest transition to the United States so that they can focus their energy on building successful businesses. We know just how important immigrant entrepreneurs are to the economy of this country, and we appreciate the fact that they create American jobs for our fellow citizens.

From Alexander Graham Bell (AT&T founder) to Sergey Brin (Google founder), immigrants have created some of America’s most iconic companies. As of 2010, more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Plus, a new study from the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-partisan think tank based in Arlington, Virginia, shows that immigrants started more than half of the current U.S.-based startups valued at $1 billion or more. These 44 companies, the study says, are collectively valued at $168 billion and create an average of roughly 760 jobs per company in the U.S. The study also estimates that immigrants make up over 70% of key management or product development positions at these companies. The three highest valued U.S. companies with immigrant founders include car-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc., data-software company Palantir Technologies Inc. and rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Inc.

Stuart Anderson, the study’s author and the foundation’s executive director, says the findings show that the U.S. economy could benefit from the talents of foreign-born entrepreneurs even more so if it were easier for them to obtain visas. We support legislation like the EB-JOBS Act of 2015 (introduced in July) that will make more options available to immigrant entrepreneurs. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has estimated the EB-JOBS Act provision would create 1 million to 3.2 million jobs over 10 years.

In the meantime, our law firm knows how to work with the existing options to help our innovative clients gain legal status. With over 30 years of experience as immigration law specialists, we are highly skilled at navigating the legal complexities faced by newcomers to our country. Our purpose is to make the immigration process as painless as possible for our clients and their families.

Here is a brief breakdown explaining possible options available to entrepreneurs who are ready to establish a business in the United States:

E2 Investor Visa

E2 is the closest thing we have to a startup visa. It requires an entrepreneur to make a “substantial investment” in their new American business, though the minimum amount isn’t specified. To be eligible, entrepreneurs must be from one of the countries with which the U.S. has a treaty, which includes Australia, Belgium, Argentina and Japan among many others but doesn’t include India or China. Though this visa is only valid for two years, it can be renewed indefinitely. Plus, the spouse is eligible for a work visa, too.

The O Extraordinary Ability Visas (aka the “rock star visa”)

Immigrant entrepreneurs who can prove expertise, recognition and standing as extraordinarily talented in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics may be eligible for this visa. Awards, press articles or books the individual has written may be considered proof of extraordinary ability. The spouse and children may also be eligible for an O visa that allows family to accompany the gifted individual. These visas are temporary but may be renewed indefinitely.

The E2 and O visas are just two of the possible options available to immigrant entrepreneurs depending on the specific situation. Please contact our office today to find out how we can help you achieve your dream of starting an American business.

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