Which visa do you need?

For a summary table of visa requirements by visa type, download the Question the Questions report below and check out page 34.

A straightforward VISA you can get is an E-1 visa, issued for a company that is trading internationally with the US. Importantly, the employees of the company must be of the same nationality as the company to be eligible for E-1 visas.

Otherwise, an L-1 visa (intra-company transfer) is the most likely to suit your needs.

If you’re a successful entrepreneur, or have extraordinary credentials, you could apply for an O-1 visa (applies to science, education, business or sport).

Finally, if you are ineligible for or unlikely to get those visas then you could apply for an H-1B visa. This is a capped visa – companies apply at the beginning of April for a start date of October. It is essentially a lottery, with your chances of success at roughly 1/3, because a limited amount of H-1B visas are provided each year.

Australia, Singapore and Chile have specialist visa treaties with the US that grant nationals of those countries additional visas to work in the US. If you are f one of those nationalities, research these additional options.

Business visitor visa

This is an easy visa to get but be careful – the restrictions on it are quite tight. You can use this visa for visits during your planning process; some allowed activities include:

• Merchants taking orders for goods manufactured abroad;

• Negotiating contracts;

• Consulting with clients or business associates;

• Litigating; and/or

• Undertaking independent research.

Bottom line

When it comes to American work visas, there are many categories to choose from. Immigration policies often change with each new Administration and new legislation.

Keeping up with those changes is a full-time job in itself; our advice is to start early and maintain regular contact with a reliable immigration attorney

Coming to America: a primer on visas for foreign entrepreneurs

Employment Visas: Changes and what to expect

Specialists in the field:

Paul Samaritan – Ganguin Samaritan

Daniella McGuigan – Ogetree Deakins

Gloria Lin  – Immigration Law Group

Dana DiRaimondo – D&S Boutique Business Immigration

“ The visa process can be a huge battle you’ve got to be mentally ready for. A good immigration attorney will know the details of your various options and can set expectations and plan accordingly.” – Danny Hakimian, Onfido


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