Visa

Visa

If you are planning to come to the US to start a business, you will need to have one of the various types of US business visas. Without a visa, you can be the owner or manager of a US company, but you cannot legally work before.

If you do work for your own company without the proper visa, you can be deported without right of return, and your company can be fined for hiring an illegal alien.

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Name Description Length Limitations
B1 Short term business visa Not
allowed to sign contracts or
perform work for hire
Temporary, up to 6
months
Can negotiate but cannot
sign contracts
B2 Short term Tourist visa Temporary, up to 6
months
Can negotiate but cannot
sign contract
E-1 Treaty trader visa. Good for
setting up a business that will
trade with the visa-holder’s home
country. Must be with a country
with an appropriate treaty with the
US
Temporary, can be
renewed until
business is no
longer in operation
Is only valid as long as there
is a business. Children under
21 cannot work, and lose
their status once they turn 21
E-2 Treaty investor visa. Allows a
citizen of a treaty country to come
to the US to start a business
Temporary, can be
renewed until
business is no
longer in operation
Is only valid as long as there
is a business. Children under
21 cannot work, and lose
their status once they turn 21
EB-5 Investor Green Card program.
Requires an investment of $500k
to $1MM, must hire at least 10 US
residents within 2 years and
survive more than 5 years
Leads to
permanent
residence after
probation period
L-1 Intercompany transfer visa.
Allows holder to transfer from
foreign company to a US company
subject to restrictions
One year, with up
to 3 extensions
Employee must have worked
for foreign, related company
for more than one year in the
last 3 years
H-1B Specialized labor visa Three year,
extendable
Annual quota restricts
number of visas available.
Cannot be used for selfemployment.
O-1 Extraordinary Ability visa Up to three years,
extendable
Must be able to document
extraordinary ability
TN NAFTA temporary work visa Up to three years,
extendable
Cannot be used for selfemployment