Visa options to set up a business in USA [EB5/L1/B1/B2]


The United States of America has a strong and proud history of attracting migrants to its shores, especially those with little more than a business idea and a dream of success.

There is no shortage of reasons why business investors choose the United States – from the business-friendly environment and quality of life considerations to a specific technology, supply chain, infrastructure, and a highly qualified workforce. The diversity and openness truly allow entrepreneurs and businesses from all countries and industries to start a business and thrive.

There are several visa routes available to migrants to set up business in the USA.

EB 5 visa – Category 5 of the Employment-based visa also popularly known as ‘EB-5’investor  visa is a well-known route. It requires an applicant to invest at least US$ 500,000 [revised to US$ 900,000 from Nov 2019] in a Regional Investment Center [RIC] or US$ 1 million [to be revised to US$ 1.8 million from Nov 2019] in a U.S. business.

How to apply for EB5 visa:

  • A petition is filed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Once the petition is approved, the EB5 investor applies to the State Department for the visa.
  • The EB-5 visa allows permanent residence on a conditional basis for 2 years.
  • The applicant is required to file for removal of conditions on their Green card.
  • Further, once an investment project meets with the requirements, the investor gets a green card.
  • In the present category family members (spouse and children) can also join you.

With the recent change in regulations, the family members must file their own petitions to remove conditions on their permanent residence when they are not included in a petition to remove conditions filed by the investor (main applicant).

  • In order to ease the process of removing conditions, the USCIS has provided flexibility in the interview locations and quick updates for issue for PR cards.

An applicant on an EB5 visa would require investing in the US and create 10 full-time jobs for US workers and receive a green card in return. This category allows an application to invest directly in a new commercial enterprise or in a regional centre.

The entire process does seem to be tedious however one can expect the EB5 process to take about 2 years.

L1 Visas – should an investor not intend to invest the monies to a regional investment center – given that it is an investment at risk. They can choose to apply for L1 visa. which allows companies to transfer employees to the United States with the purpose of developing operations in the US by opening a new branch, subsidiary, or affiliate office.

This category is primarily divided into two subcategories: L1A visa is ideal for managers and executives and

L1B visa for professionals with specialized knowledge.

In an executive role, a company must have three tiers of employees, managers may need two or three tiers of employment. Every business visa application is backed up by a Business plan and every company is required to provide a plan which explains how they intend to span out in the given years. It is pertinent to know the 4 main requirements in the L1 visa:

  1. There must be a qualifying relationship between the foreign company and the US company.
    2. The employee coming to work in the US must have been continuously employed full-time by the foreign company for at least 1 year within the last 3 years before filing the L1 petition.
    3. The employment with the foreign company must have been in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.
  2. The employee’s work for the US company must be in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.

This category of visa is one of the most chosen options for entrepreneurs and business owners to apply for settlement in USA. The L1-A visa grants a maximum stay of up to 7 years and L1-B grants up to 5 years and you can live and work in the United States for extended periods of time.

Smart Tip – You may also be able to convert your L1 visa to a green card through the EB1C classification.

Business Visit visa – For applicants who are unsure about investing large amounts upfront or not being in a position to move to the USA, they can still leverage the business opportunities provided by the USA. Generally speaking, any person can incorporate a business in the USA, be the owner of a US company. Such a person may form a company (or business), purchase an existing one, and so on. However, they cannot work on that business.


E 2 Treaty visas

The E-2investor visa category for USA allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) such as Australian, Bulgarian, Canadian, Chinese, French, British nationals to name a few to enter the US by investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Ideally, it must be enough to ensure the successful operation of the business.

Smart Tip – The investment must be a real operating business, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking and it must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.

With all the recent buzz about Grenada being the only Caribbean country with a fast-track citizenship programme, which signed a Commerce and Navigation Treaty with the USA. This allows Grenada’s citizens to be eligible for the US E2 non-immigrant visa. This eases the process for Grenadians to secure US E2 visa and further seeks citizenship in the US along with their family members.

Over the years the requirements have changed it has been seen that given that higher amounts are involved in obtaining the visa, and providing clarity of legal source of the funds is of utmost importance and given the fact the total time taken to process the application is slightly on the other end. Hence it is safer to take assistance in order to streamline the entire process from qualified experts who have the insights on correct documentation and who would chart out the specific timelines for the entire procedure.

At SmartMove Immigration our Immigration experts have helped 1000s of clients to migrate to UK, USA, Canada and other destinations around the world. If you are considering migration to any of these countries you can contact our immigration experts on +91 98191 27002 or email us at to know more about options for investing in USA.