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The U.S. immigration attorneys at GANDS have extensive experience in utilizing creative ways to secure temporary and permanent visas for entrepreneurial clientele in categories that may not apparent at first glance. We pride ourselves in utilizing an all-of-the-available diagnosis of each individual’s case in our consultations and have been able to successfully leverage the following categories to secure immigration benefits for our clients. Below are some examples that may suit the needs of entrepreneurs and investors:

Extraordinary Ability Visas (O-1 / EB-1-A)

If an investor / entrepreneur can demonstrate that he or she has “sustained national or international acclaim” as being among the small percentage of individuals that have risen to the very top of the field, then an Extraordinary Ability visa may be an option.

The EB-1-A Green Card has a notably high evidentiary standard but allows for self-petitioning. The immigrant must show receipt of a major internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize (which is quite rare) or the far more common proof of satisfying certain regulatory criteria evidencing the relative status in the field. This petition may be subject to premium processing, allowing relatively fast immigration to the United States.

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is analogous to the EB-1-A but has a few key differences. Importantly, the burden of proof is considerably lesser, especially for those in the arts. The O-1 requires a U.S.-based petitioner, which may be an employer or agent. The O-1 visa allows for an initial three-year period of stay and unlimited extensions are available in one-year increments.

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver

The EB-2 National Interest Waiver Green Card requires an applicant to show:

  1. The proposed endeavor is of substantial merit and national importance;
  2. The applicant is well-positioned to advance the endeavor; and
  3. On balance, it would be beneficial to U.S. to bypass usual EB-2 requirement of a job offer and PERM labor market test.

The EB-2 NIW is similar to the EB-1A and many applicants choose to apply for both simultaneously. Further, the NIW was recently liberalized to allow for more entrepreneurial-minded applicants. Like the EB-1-A, no offer of employment is required, individuals may self-petition. However, premium processing is currently not available and processing times may vary significantly. 

H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa

The H-1B Specialty Occupation visa provides some limited opportunity for entrepreneurs to obtain immigration status in the United States. A bona fide employer-employee relationship is required and thus not every business will qualify. Close consultation with an immigration lawyer is a practical necessity in such cases.

The H-1B visa requires employment in a specialty occupation that requires a U.S. Baccalaureate Degree (or foreign equivalent) and the payment of a wage compliant with requirements determined by the Department of Labor (the prevailing wage). There is also an annual cap on the number of petitions that can be approved. Given recent demand, a lottery is instituted with all cap-subject petitions requiring filing by early April. Some petitions are cap exempt given the nature of the employment or employer.

B-1 Visitor for Business / ESTA Visa Waiver for Business (VWB)

In order to establish the foundation required to eventually support an EB-5, E-2, or L-1 filing, a foreign national may need to visit the United States.  The Visitor for Business visa allows one to conduct research, complete commercial transactions, or attend conventions and meetings. Productive employment for U.S.-based entities is not permitted and, as such, prudent applicants may wish to work with an immigration attorney to ensure presentation to the appropriate government officials maximizes the success of admission.