The Best Entrepreneur Visa For The USA?

There are a number of business visas that enable world class entrepreneurs from all around the world to grow their businesses in the US. Unfortunately, deciding which option to pursue can be challenging. 

How Can An Entrepreneur Use The E2 Visa?

The E2 Visa is one of the most popular entrepreneur visa options. This visa enables  foreign national entrepreneurs who meet the qualifications to remain in the US indefinitely while they run their business. As a bonus, certain employees who share the nationality of the entrepreneur can also work in the US on the E2 Visa.

Nationality Requirements of the E2 Visa

Before you fall in love with the E2 visa option, it is important to know that the E2 visa is limited to nationals of specific countries that have an E2 treaty with the US. Fortunately, many major countries are included on the list which can be found here. While the list is long, there are some notable exclusions that include some powerhouse countries such as China, India and Brazil.

Other Requirements of the E2 Visa

In addition to meeting the nationality requirement, an E2 Visa applicant must have invested or be in the process of investing a substantial amount of lawfully obtained money in a US based business. While there is no minimum investment, the invested sum must be large enough to convince the US government that the business has a high likelihood of success. 

Also, the applicant must show that the business will provide jobs for US workers. Businesses that are designed to solely support the applicant and their family do not qualify.

E2 Visa Limitations 

There are a number of benefits of the E2 Visa. However, it does have a few drawbacks that will make it a poor option for some entrepreneurs.

Drawback #1 of the E2 Visa: Some children will “age out.”

Young children will be able to accompany the E2 Visa recipient to the US. However, those children will no longer qualify for E Visa status when they turn 21. This means that before the 21st birthday, the child of an E2 visa holder will need to find a different status to enable them to remain in the country. 

Drawback #2 of the E2 Visa: No Direct Path to a Green Card

The second limitation of the E2 Visa is that it does not provide a direct path to a green card through the entrepreneur’s business. For example, a person on an E2 Visa who arrives in the US and establishes a thriving business that employs US workers will not qualify for a green card based on the business, unless they can qualify for an Eb5 green card.

E2 Visa Benefits

Now that you understand a couple of limitations of the E2 Visa, it is time to discuss its considerable benefits. 

E2 Visa Benefit #1: Speed and Cost

One major benefit of the E2 Visa is that the process to obtain it is relatively fast and inexpensive. It is not uncommon to receive a decision within a few months from the day that the application was filed.

E2 Visa Benefit #2: Renewal Possibilities 

Another perk of the E2 Visa is that you can renew it indefinitely as long as you continue to meet the requirements. 

E2 Visa Benefit #3: New Startups Qualify

The third unique benefit of the E2 Visa is that there is no requirement for the new business in the US to have a connection to an established business abroad. This means that brand new startups can qualify for the E2 if all of the requirements are met.

Five Other USA Entrepreneur Visa Options

While the E2 Visa is great, it is not a fit for everyone. So…what do you do if your country is not on the list or you want to have a clearer path to a green card?


The L1 Visa can be a Viable Entrepreneur Visa for the USA

For founders who have started a company abroad, the L1 Visa can be a viable option. This visa allows for a company to transfer upper level managers and executives to the US to start a new office. While this visa is difficult to obtain, those who receive an L1 Visa can oftentimes transition to an Eb1c green card.

NIW Green Cards

Accomplished entrepreneurs can oftentimes qualify for a NIW(National Interest Waiver) Green Card. This is possible if they can demonstrate that they have:

  • exceptional ability or an advanced degree AND
  • their work would be in the national interest of the US

Eb5 Visa

The Eb5 Visa is for those who can make a large investment in a US commercial enterprise. This requires:

  • An investment of $900,000 or 1.8 Million depending on where the commercial enterprise is located AND
  • Creation of 10 full time jobs for US workers

While the Eb5 is not for everyone, those who can meet the qualifications can recoup their investment and obtain a US green card.


Conclusion: What Is The Best Entrepreneur Visa For The USA?

There are a lot of reasons to get excited about the E2 Visa. It is startup friendly and enables entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams of launching a business in the US. After the initial approval, the visa can be continuously renewed as long as the requirements continue to be met.

Unfortunately, this option is limited to nationals of countries that have the required E2 Treaty with the US. Additionally, there are other drawbacks to carefully consider before starting the E2 Visa Process.

If you think that the E2 Visa may be the best option for you and your family, please consult with an immigration lawyer that can give you specific legal guidance that is tailored to your unique situation.

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Benjamin Frear, Esq.

Immigration Lawyer For Entrepreneurs & Investors

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