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One Million Dollars Required by Foreign Nationals to Start a Business in the U.S - Truth or Myth?

Foreign Nationals who are interested in investing or starting a business in the United States are often under the belief that $500,000.00 to $1,000,000.00 is required to obtain a U.S. investor or business visa. In fact, this is a myth. We have successfully assisted our clients with options that have low investment requirements in relation to their business plans. There are a few basic ways to obtain a visa which we explain briefly below.

H-1B visa

Individuals who are in a specialty occupations which require a four year degree, may invest in a new U.S. business, and work for the company under an H-1B visa. However, an H-1B worker who also owns an investment interest in the business must meet the following requirements:

  • H-1B visa holder cannot control the company through his or her ownership interest and job description.
  • Business Partners should be Permanent Residents or U.S. Citizens
  • The company cannot be H-1B dependent

This option is very complex. It requires an experienced immigration and business attorney in order to have the best chance of success. However, there is no minimum or maximum investment requirements needed here.

E-2 visa

U.S. Investor visas are classed as E visas. Only qualifying countries may participate under Treaty. The Department of State (DOS) regularly updates the list of qualified countries. Here, a Foreign National's investment must be "active" and "at risk" in order to be approved for this visa category. A solid business plan is also essential. The business plan must clearly show that the budget to start and operate the business is matched with the amount of capital being invested to fund the business venture. Capital must be at risk such as monies placed in escrow for leases or contracts upon approval of the visa. Therefore, monies would already be invested into setting up the business, prior to E visa application. An investor could only get their investment back if an E visa were not granted. Otherwise, the funds are "at risk". If later, one decides to adjust to a U.S. Permanent resident an E visa does allow adjustment of status.

Experienced E-2 visa attorneys will understand how an E visa meets the capital requirements.

L-1A Visa

Our prior blogs go into details about the L visa. However, it is worth mentioning the L visa here. F

f a Foreign National has worked for, or owns a company abroad, he or she may be eligible to open a new office in the United States by applying for an L-1A or L-1B visa. It is possible to adjust status to a U.S. Permanent Resident from L-1A status.

In conclusion, the E-B5 is a permanent U.S. visa. It grants 2 year conditional Permanent Resident Status (i.e. Green Card) to successful applicants. This is the only option that requires a minimum amount. One million dollars ($1,000,000,000) is the standard amount. Exceptions to this rule are not discussed here.

You may contact our office to set up an appointment for a free 20 minute attorney phone consult. We have different office locations based in the Washington D.C. area and surrounding states which are available at We also services clients world wide.

All of our attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association ("AILA").

Vassell & LeeRC Law Group

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