Exploring Immigration Options: The Best Visas for Investors, Executives & Skilled Workers
by: Elizabeth Blandon, Board-Certified Immigration Attorney
For investors, business executives and skilled workers, there are several excellent immigration programs available that can help you to live and work in the United States –in most cases you will also be able to bring your immediate family members.
The three programs that give applicants the most bang for their buck are:
The L-1A Visa for Executives and Mangers
Using the L-1A visa process, a foreign company can transfer a qualified executive or manager to an existing or a newly created subsidiary in the United States.
To qualify, the applicant must:
• Have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States and
• Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. Extensions of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.
The L-1A is an excellent choice for managers or executives of an established foreign company which intends to start or develop a company in the United States.
The E-2 Visa for Investors
For those from treaty countries with money to invest in a US business, the E-2 program is an attractive option. Depending on the industry, investments can be as low as $100,000.
To qualify for E-2 classification, the investor must:
• Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
• Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
• Have at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
While visas do not grant permission to remain in the United States indefinitely, qualified E-2 investors and eligible employees can apply for unlimited 2-year extensions. Their spouses are also eligible for work permits and their children can attend college.
The H-1B Visa for Specialized Workers
The H-1B visa program is used by U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge. It is commonly used for employees in STEM occupations (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) such as engineers or computer programmers.
Although the H-1B program is subject to congressionally mandated caps, it is still an excellent choice for business owners who cannot find the US-based talent that they need to maintain business operations.
It is also an option for a foreigner with a bachelor’s degree who wishes to start a company in the United States.
The help of competent advisors will ensure that your immigration goals are successful while also mitigating tax, financial and estate impacts.
For expert advice on which program may be right for you or your foreign clients, visit Blandon Law.
NOTE: Elizabeth Blandon is the founder of Blandon Law, a Weston-based firm specializing in immigration, naturalization and consular law matters for foreign nationals worldwide. She is Board-Certified in Immigration Law and has been practicing immigration law for 20 years. Currently Ms. Blandon serves as Chairperson of the Immigration Section of the Broward County Bar Association and as Vice Chair of the Nationality & Law Certification Committee for the Florida Bar.