Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
There are several immigration options available for individuals seeking to open a new office in the United States. Some of the most common immigration options are the E visa category and the L-1 visa.
The E visa categories are designated for foreign citizens who are engaged in international trade or investment between the United States and the foreign country. This visa category requires that the United States has negotiated a "treaty of commerce and navigation" or a "bilateral investment treaty" with that foreign nation. Therefore, only citizens of certain treaty countries are eligible for an E visa. A list of eligible countries is available on the Department of State's Treaty Reciprocity List By Country.
The E-1 Treaty Trader visa is available if the company in the United States will engage in substantial trade between the United States and the foreign country. The United States enterprise must generate international trade with the treaty country of more than 50 percent of its total international volume either in dollar amount or number of transactions. This trade may include both goods and services.
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa requires "substantial" investment in the U.S. enterprise. This amount is not specified, with the amount depending on the circumstances. While investments over $100,000 are most common, lesser capitalized ventures may qualify depending on the type of business and stage of development.
If you are opening up a new office in the United States for a company you are working for abroad, you may also want to consider the L-1 visa status. Initial visa status for new office openings are granted for a one-year period. The Immigration Service typically requires detailed information about the plans for the new office. Evidence may include proof that office space has been obtained, that you had the appropriate experience with the foreign company, and that the foreign company will remain in existence during your employment in the United States. Extensions of these one year visas require proof that the company has made progress with the plans outlined in the initial L-1 petition.
For more information about the L-1 visa category, please see Peng & Weber's L-1 visa page.