U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun accepting applications under the International Entrepreneur Rule, but it is unclear how applications will be processed, if at all. Fortunately, there are still avenues available for investors and entrepreneurs who would like to bring their unique skills and ideas to the United States.
E-1 and E-2 Visas
Qualification for the E-1 and E-2 visas is focused on an applicant’s trade and economic involvement in the US. To obtain an E-1 visa, an individual must be seeking to enter the United States for the purpose of engaging in the substantial trade of goods and services. An E-2 visa is for individuals who are seeking to make a significant investment in the United States. Employees of E visa holders may also be eligible to come to the United States. To obtain either visa, an individual must be a member of a recognized treaty country, though it is important to note that the treaty countries that qualify for one visa do not necessarily qualify for the other. The length of an E visa depends on the type of business and the investment made, and there is generally no limit on how many times an E visa can be renewed.
For detailed information about E visas, download our 13 page E Visa Guide for Investors and Entrepreneurs. If you have questions about your particular business or investment, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.
Self-Petition Green Cards for Entrepreneurs
U.S. immigration law provides two routes to permanent residence that do not require sponsorship by a U.S. employer: the Extraordinary Ability petition and the National Interest Waiver (NIW). An individual can “self-petition” in either of these categories, meaning that they can request a green card from the USCIS on their own behalf. Although there is no job offer requirement for these categories, an applicant still must demonstrate that they are “coming to the United States to continue work in the area of expertise” in the case of the Extraordinary Ability petition, and must be “well positioned” to advance their proposed endeavor in the U.S. in the case of the National Interest Waiver.
If you are hoping to self petition for a green card as an entrepreneur, you must have the background and career history to prove the following:
- For Extraordinary Ability: You played a leading or critical role for an organization
- For Extraordinary Ability: You received media attention for you work
- For Extraordinary Ability: You have an academic background that directly related to you’re your current venture. For example: You contributed to the research or development of a product, software, or an invention that is now in production
- For NIW: Your proposed endeavor in the U.S. has some sort of “substantial merit” and “national importance
- For NIW : You are “well positioned” to continue their project in the U.S.
- For NIW: You have made steps towards their goal (this could include the incorporation of a start up, proof of investors, or a business plan)
Today’s foreign-born business and thought leaders hold a unique place in the future of the United States and its economy – and self-petition green cards are a straightforward path to citizenship for these valuable entrepreneurs. FordMurray attorneys are happy to offer a complimentary consultation if you think you might qualify for a NIW or Extraordinary Ability petition – contact us today or download our 11-page Guide to Self Petition Green Cards for more information.