I’m moving my business to the U.S.

Moving your company to the U.S. is a great way to expand, enjoy a high quality of life, and take advantage of a specialized workforce. But it’s not easy, and it can be extremely expensive. Follow these steps to make sure your transition goes smoothly.

Here are the top 5 questions to ask before moving your business to the U.S.:
  1. Which type of visa should you apply for?
    There are several types of employment-based immigration visas. Each type has specific requirements that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) looks for. Here’s a quick overview of a few common types:
    • E-2 visas are granted if you’re starting or acquiring a business in the U.S. You’re eligible if you live in a country that has a treaty with the U.S. You have to own at least half of the business and invest enough money up front to ensure it will succeed (usually at least $100,000). E-2 visas are typically valid for 2 years and can be renewed.
    • L-1A visas are granted if you’re an executive of a non-U.S. company and you’re being transferred to the U.S. to open and/or manage a branch here. You have to have worked for the foreign company for at least a year, and you need a physical office in the U.S. An L-1A visa is valid for up to 7 years and may be converted into a permanent green card, via EB-1C.
    • L-1B visas are similar to L-1A visas, but instead of being an executive, you must have highly specialized skills or expertise about your company’s product, patents, or procedures. L-1B visas are valid for up to 5 years.
    • EB-5 visas are permanent, unlike the more common E-2 visas, but the requirements are much harder to fulfill, and a maximum of 10,000 are granted each year. Under current law, you must personally invest at least $500,000 (if it’s a designated area with high unemployment) and create 10 permanent, full-time jobs in the U.S. After 2 years, USCIS reviews your progress and decides whether to award you citizenship.
  2. Are you prepared for the expense?
    Moving in general is expensive--even moreso when you move overseas. Make sure your budget includes the cost of renting (or buying) office space and/or land, purchasing equipment and supplies, and getting all the necessary licenses and permits. Factor in living expenses as well. If you’re moving to a major U.S. metro area like New York City or Los Angeles, it can be extremely expensive. If you’re seeking permanent residence in the U.S. with the EB-5 visa, save at least $75,000 more than the minimum investment to use on research, filing fees, and a lawyer.
  3. Do you have a good immigration lawyer?
    An immigration lawyer isn’t required when applying for an employment-based immigration visa, but he or she can save you valuable time and frustration, because immigration law is highly complex--especially EB-5 and L-1 visas. Your immigration lawyer can help prepare paperwork for you, talk to local consulates, and generally make the process much easier and smoother. If your application is rejected, an immigration lawyer can help. While hiring an immigration lawyer doesn’t guarantee that your visa will be approved, it vastly increases your chances. If you don’t have strong legal representation, we can help you find someone. Masterplans partners with more than 300 attorneys throughout the U.S. We’ve made it easy by highlighting six recommended attorneys on our Find an Attorney page.
  4. Do you have a solid business plan? With L-1, E-2, and especially EB-5 visa applications, a solid business plan is absolutely vital. Make sure you do your homework. Entrepreneur advises immigration visa seekers, “Are your building and zoning permits in place? Is your land for development secured, or will this depend on the [outside] investors? Where are your feasibility reports and do these outline reasonable numbers for your project?” For most visas, it’s also essential that you specify your professional qualifications and clearly make the case why you need to come to the U.S.

    If you don’t satisfy the USCIS requirements, your visa adjudicator will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), which means you have to fix your business plan and try again. It can be challenging to get things right, so hire the experts at Masterplans. If we create a business plan for your employment-based immigration visa and you get an RFE, we’ll revise and update your plan for free.
  5. Is everything in order? Your work isn’t done after you hire an immigration lawyer, get a business plan, and apply for your visa. You’ll need to register your company in the U.S., find office space, create a bank account in the U.S., register for social security, and more. Laws and environmental regulations may be different in the U.S. than your country, so familiarize yourself. And get ready for your big move!
Whew! Overwhelmed yet? You don’t have to be. We can help. Key to getting your immigration visa approved is a comprehensive business plan. At Masterplans, we draw upon more than 20 years of experience to develop compelling financial forecasts, exclusive market & industry analysis, growth strategies, and more. With nearly 3,000 successful immigration business plans under our belt, we know what you need. Give yourself the best chance possible!
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