Select Page

U.S. Visas for Entrepreneurs

U.S. VISAS FOR EUROPEAN ENTREPRENEURS: ESTA/VWP, B1, L1A, E1, E2, AND EB5

Here we explain how you obtain a U.S. visa when preparing for your move to the United States.
GET STARTED

The U.S visa system is very complicated and, when moving to the U.S, obtaining a visa will be one of your priorities. You need a great visa attorney to help navigate this difficult system, do not try to do it yourself. Here at Mount Bonnell we have several, brilliant visa attorneys that can work with you to complete your visa application. They do all the leg work for you so you can go ahead and make your move to the United States.

BOOK AN EXPERT CONSULTATION ON BUILDING
YOUR BUSINESS IN THE US, US TAXES AND MOVING TO THE US

Alternatively, request a free, no strings potential analysis for your U.S. venture.

VISA CATEGORIES FOR U.S. ENTREPRENEURS

The following visas are the most suitable ones for entrepreneurs:

ESTA/VWP
(Visa Waiver Program)

Obviously, an ESTA is not a visa, instead it is a visa-free entry permit. An ESTA allows citizens from 38 countries to spend up to 90 days in the U.S. without a visa. Under normal circumstances, once your 90 days are up, all you need to do is leave the country for 30 days and you can begin again with your next 90 days. Even though an ESTA is not a permanent solution, it is not be underestimated, and is often overlooked as a short-term solution.

Learn more about ESTA / WVP

B-1 visa
(U.S. Visitor Visa)

The B-1 visa entitles you to spend 180 continuous days in the U.S. This visa is typically valid for 5 or 10 years. It is relatively easy to obtain if you can justify why the 90-day visa waiver is insufficient. Obviously, the B-1 visa doesn’t allow you to live in the U.S. permanently, but we have clients who have held a B-1 visa for years.

Learn more about B-1 visa

L-1A Visa
(U.S. Business Expansion Visa)

This visa is for those who have a business in their home country that is opening at a location in the U.S. On this visa, you can go to the U.S. to help build up your new business location. The L-1A visa is valid for a maximum of 7 years. Over the course of these 7 years, both the U.S. company and the parent company must demonstrate continuous business operations. Eventually this visa can be converted into a green card.

Learn more about L-1A visa

E-1 Visa
(U.S. Treaty Trader Visa)

This visa is for those who already have a business in their home country, but are doing a substantial amount of business in the U.S. and have U.S. clients. Basically, this visa is for trips whereby you are going to the U.S. to boost your business in some way. If you meet the visa requirements an E-1 visa it can be pretty easy to obtain. This visa is valid forever, but must be renewed every 2 years.

Unfortunately, this visa cannot be treated as a substitute for a Green Card.

Learn more about E-1 visa

E-2 Visa
(U.S. Treaty Investor Visa)

In order to earn your E-2 visa, you must invest at least $150,000 in a U.S. building or the buying of a U.S. company. Like the E-1 visa, the E-2’s validity lasts forever as long as the company is operating. This visa must be renewed every 2 years. Again, the E-2 visa cannot be treated as a substitute for a Green Card.

Learn more about E-2 visa

EB-5 Visa
(Immigrant Investor Visa)

This visa is available if you’re investing $1,000,000 in a new or existing U.S. business (or $500,000 if it’s a rural area). With this visa, you will receive a temporary green card for 2 years. If the company is still operating and you’ve created at least 10 full-time jobs, then you’ll be eligible for a Green Card.

Learn more about EB-5 Visa

O-1
(Extraordinary Ability)

The O1 visa is a non-resident US visa for people who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field, whether that be the arts, sport, business, education, or the sciences. The O1 visa is normally valid for up 3 years. However, if it is granted to cover a specific event, production, or activity, the period may be less. Extensions are available in 1-year increments, and there is no limit on extensions, however the visa holder must show that they are continuing with same position or activity for which the original visa was granted.

Learn more about O-1 visa

L-1 VISA: THE BEST VISA FOR ENTREPRENEURS

In our opinion, the L-1 visa is the best visa option for entrepreneurs. However, this visa is granted under the assumption that you already have a fully operating business at home, one that has existed for some years and which has employees and generates decent sales.

In my experience, a good starting point to be eligible for an L-1 visa in the U.S. would mean about €500,000 in annual sales and around 10 employees (including up to 5 freelancers).

Although you don’t need to invest a fixed amount in the U.S. to get the L-1 visa, you do need to rent and equip a U.S. office. Additionally, you have to start a U.S. company.

When you have done all this, you will receive the L-1 visa for 1 year, which then will need to be extended. To qualify for this extension, you need to be able to prove that your business in the U.S. is in good shape and that you are fulfilling your business plan. That will require you showing that there is turnover and that you have employees, otherwise, your extension could be denied.

The biggest advantage of the L-1 visa is that it can be turned into a Green Card during your stay in the US. This isn’t possible with other visas.

THE E-1 VISA COULD BE THE EASIEST WAY TO THE U.S.

Although we treat the L-1 visa as the best option for entrepreneurs due to its Green Card guarantee, if you meet E-1 visa requirements, then that is the easiest way to get to live in the U.S.

The E-1 visa is open to all entrepreneurs who are from a country that is in some sort of partnership with the U.S. Many countries qualify for this visa.

To qualify for the E-1 visa, you must have operations in your home country that make at least 50% of its foreign sales in the U.S. (domestic sales don’t apply).

In order to apply for this visa, you don’t need to invest in the U.S. but it is important that your company has at least a year’s worth of sales in the U.S. Regardless of whether you fulfill one large U.S. order per month or several orders, this will still qualify.

For example, Udo is a German entrepreneur who is the sole owner of Udo’s Brillen GmbH, a Limited Liability Company in Germany that sells sunglasses.

Udo achieves an annual turnover of €500,000 – €300,000 of these sales are German and the rest totalling €200,000 are made abroad. Out of this €200,000, €120,000 in sales come from the U.S. and the remaining €80,000 from other EU countries. Udo sells his product through Amazon U.S.A. He pays €10,000 a month to reach U.S. customers and sells around 200 sunglasses every month in the United States.

Udo stands a great chance of getting an E1 visa because:

  • He is German and his company is in Germany, which has the necessary trade agreement with the U.S.
  • Over 50% of his foreign sales are from the U.S.
  • He regularly sells his product to customers in the U.S.
  • In relation to his total business turnover his U.S. sales are substantial.

Despite what we have said it is important to realize that the E-1 visa has its disadvantages too. An entrepreneur who operates in a foreign company cannot apply for the E-1 visa even if U.S. sales quotas are met.

GETTING A VISA WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT A U.S. LAWYER

Since 2008 I have applied for and renewed a U.S. visa on 5 occasions. Of these applications 4 were approved, just one time I was unsuccessful.

Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of U.S. attorneys.

I can assure you that without a lawyer, you will not be able to obtain a visa.

Moreover, even with a lawyer, you may not always be successful. Today, I work solely with a U.S. immigration lawyer who has helped me obtain a visa on 3 occasions. I would highly recommend this approach to any entrepreneur thinking of living and working in America.

To that end, expect legal fees of around €10,000 when applying for your U.S. visa.

HOW WE CAN HELP YOU WITH THE U.S. VISA

As I previously mentioned, my experience has proven that an American lawyer is necessary when applying for a U.S. visa.

We have plenty of experience with U.S. visas, moving to the U.S., and establishing a business there as a foreigner. So we can advise you on all aspects of your move to the U.S.

If you are interested in discussing your project from a strategic and entrepreneurial perspective, then Mount Bonnell would be glad to assist you.

Moreover, we could save you some of the money you would spend on legal fees, especially if from the start we think that you do not meet the necessary qualifications for a U.S. visa.

If you were to hire a lawyer, you would need to pay for them to assess your case and then possibly tell you that you do not qualify for the visa. Whereas we can deliver the same result in less than an hour for no extra charge.

If you were to hire a lawyer, you would need to pay for them to assess your case and then possibly tell you that you do not qualify for the visa. Whereas we can deliver the same result in less than an hour for no extra charge.

EXPIRATION OF THE VISA APPLICATION (E VISAS AND L-1A)

When applying for the L-1A visa, your lawyer will submit a 500-page portfolio to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For E visas, your application will be processed through the U.S. Embassy in your country of residence. The folder will contain documents that were provided by you to the attorney. These include: a business plan, financial statements, tax returns, bank statements, photos, a CV (resume), and organizational charts, and any other documents that support your case.

Your visa application process means lots of work. Therefore, you should take around 3-6 months in preparation for it, to say nothing of the work necessary once your visa application has been submitted. At an additional cost of $1,500, your L-1A visa application can be processed within 15 days. Normally, the E visas are processed at a U.S. embassy and the processing time will depend on how busy that embassy is with such applications. At the visa interview at the embassy, expect to be questioned in detail about your company and its business plan.

In regards to the L-1A visa, you will need to make an appointment and attend an interview at your U.S. Embassy. After this interview, if your application is approved, your visa will be issued.

BOOK AN EXPERT CONSULTATION ON BUILDING
YOUR BUSINESS IN THE US, US TAXES AND MOVING TO THE US

Alternatively, request a free, no strings potential analysis for your U.S. venture.

WHAT ABOUT MY SPOUSE AND CHILDREN?

If your visa application gets approved, your spouse and children under the age of 21 will be automatically entitled to a U.S. visa also.

Although a separate application will need to be completed for your spouse and children, but this is just a formality. All you need to do is make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in your country of residence. Then your lawyer will prepare the necessary documents for that appointment.

TAX AND STRATEGIC ADVICE FROM US
WHEN PLANNING YOUR MOVE TO THE U.S.

We’ve been supporting clients looking to enter the U.S. market for many years. Throughout the process, there are a number of tax issues that you need to consider in both your resident country and the U.S. Although tax rates in the U.S. are much lower than those in say Germany, the U.S. is known as extremely bureaucratic when it comes to its tax administration.

Some other things you should consider in regard: any limited tax liability in your country of origin and the withholding tax. The latter will apply immediately if you move to a country that is outside of the EU.

At our U.S. relocation site, we will highlight these and other any relevant considerations
when you are moving to the United States.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS) ABOUT TAXES,
COMPANY FORMATION, AND RESIDENCY IN THE U.S.

We’ve compiled over 150 of the most frequent questions and answers (FAQs) on tax, company formation, and residency in the U.S. in our knowledge base. You can visit our knowledge base here.

If you find that your personal questions have not been answered, book a telephone consultation here.

NEED ADVICE ON TAXATION, COMPANY FORMATION,
AND RESIDENCY IN THE UNITED STATES?

Starting a business in the U.S. can be both exhilarating and exasperating. There is much to know and even more to learn, and the pace of the information coming at you can be overwhelming.

That’s where Mount Bonnell Advisors come in.

Would you like to live your very own American Dream? At Mount Bonnell, we can guide you through the labyrinth of regulation and red tape and out into the blue skies of a dream come true – the dream of living and working in America.

Whether it’s technical issues around tax or residency, or strategic ones involving business formation and growth, the experienced team at Mount Bonnell Advisors are here to help.

So make that dream a reality by booking a consultation today with Mount Bonnell Advisors. Let the adventure commence!