The United States issues visas permitting non-citizens to enter the country temporarily for transacting business. They must comply with requirements concerning their business, income, and stay.
Foreigners can start and own a business in this country without a business or commercial visa or without setting foot in the United States. However, they may not work in this country without a government issued business or commercial visa which must comply with immigration law requirements.
Individuals may be directors or shareholders of American companies without a visa. But they cannot serve as an officer or perform duties in this county without a valid visa.
Individuals who engage in work without a proper visa may be deported lose their return rights. The business that permitted them to work in the U.S. may be fined.
The B-1 visa is well-known. The United States issues it to professional athletes, investors, business event attendees, speakers, researchers, engineers in commercial and industrial services and training program participants. It is valid for up to six months and allows holders to negotiate. However, holders may not engage in work or sign contracts.
Another well-known, but restricted visa, is the H-1b visa for specialized labor or workers with advanced degrees. It can last up to three years and be extended. These do not apply to self-employment
Other business visas include:
- B-2 tourist visa that is valid up to six months that provides the same rights and restrictions as a B-1 visa.
- E-1 temporary treaty trader visa which may be renewed while the business is operating. Individuals may start a business that trades with their home country having a trade treaty with the U.S.
- -2 treaty investor visa which is renewable and permits the holder to start a business in this country.
- EB-5 visa in the investor green card program where an individual can invest $500,000 to $1 million and hire at least 10 American residents within two years. Companies must stay in business between two and five years and investors can apply for permanent residency after a probationary time.
- AL-1 intercompany transfer visa allowing its holder to transfer from a foreign county to an American company under restrictions. It lasts one year and can be extended three times.
- O-1 extraordinary ability visa where the holder must have skills that are not easily found in the U.S. It lasts up to three years and may be extended.
- TN NAFTA temporary work visa which may last up to three years, is extendable and may not be used for self-employment.
Immigration can be incredibly complicated. Attorneys can help with the visa process.