4 Entrepreneur Visas for Starting a Business in the US

how to start a business in usa for non citizens
Facundo Bermudez
Your Investor Visa Journey Starts Here Apply Now
Published on 9 Nov 2023 Time to read 9 min read Last update on 10 May 2024

Embarking on the journey of starting a business in the United States is an exciting endeavor, but it comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. For entrepreneurs considering visas such as the E-2, L1, EB1C, EB5, and EB2 NIW, understanding the intricate process of establishing a business in the US is crucial. This is where Visa Franchise, a trusted partner in the immigration and business investment landscape, can provide invaluable assistance on “How To Start A Business In USA For Non Citizens“.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide that covers the essential steps to successfully launch and relocate your business to the US.

Whether you are looking to acquire the visa through startup investment, or choose to enhance your experience with additional services like bespoke business planning, expert LLC formation, seamless bank account setup, and exclusive participation in our Soft Landing Affiliate Program – the choice is yours, and we can help you every step of the way.

Can I stay in the United States if I start a business?

Yes, it is possible to stay in the United States if you start a business, but the specific visa options available to you will depend on various factors, including your nationality, the type of business you plan to start, and your level of investment.

Some of the visa options available for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the United States include:

E-2 Visa

This visa is available to citizens of certain countries that have treaties with the United States. It allows individuals to invest a substantial amount of capital in a US-based business and actively manage it. 

EB-5 Visa

This is an immigrant investor program that grants a green card to foreign investors who make a significant investment in a US commercial enterprise and create or preserve a certain number of jobs.

L-1 Visa

This visa is for intracompany transferees, allowing managers, executives, or employees with specialized knowledge to transfer to a US branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company they are currently employed by.

EB-1C Visa

This visa is for multinational executives and managers who have been employed for at least one year by a multinational company and are being transferred to the US to work for a related entity.

The E-2 Visa Route

Under the E-2 visa program, individuals have the opportunity to relocate to the USA by making a substantial investment in their own business. This visa category not only grants initial entry but also allows you to stay in the US as long as your enterprise remains in operation. Initial stays can last up to 2 years, with the option to apply for extensions in increments of up to two years. There is also no fixed extension limit.

For an E-2 visa to be granted, the business should demonstrate present or future capacity to generate sufficient income to support both the E-2 visa holder and their immediate family, while also making a positive contribution to the US economy.

It’s important to note that while the E-2 visa offers a pathway to conduct business in the US, it does not confer any rights for permanent residency. Once the business concludes its operations, the visa holder is required to return to their home country. Additionally, a spouse and children under 21 are eligible to join the E-2 investor in the USA.

The EB-5 Route

The EB-5 program offers a unique pathway for aspiring entrepreneurs to realize their American dream of starting their own business in the United States. This immigrant investor program provides an avenue for individuals and their immediate families to obtain green cards by making a qualifying investment in a U.S. commercial enterprise.

The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act significantly changed the financial landscape of the EB-5 visa program. Following the recent update, the minimum investment has been adjusted to $1,050,000, while targeted employment areas now require $800,000. Projections suggest potential future adjustments tied to inflation on a five-year basis.

The investment must also result in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of the immigrant investor’s admission to the country.

Additionally, the investment must be made in a new commercial enterprise, which is defined as a for-profit entity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business.

The L-1 Route

The L-1 intra-company transfer visa provides a viable avenue for non-US citizens to establish their own business in the United States. This visa category enables entrepreneurs to not only initiate operations in the US but also to relocate key personnel who hold managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge positions. Moreover, the L-1 visa offers qualified executives and managers an expedited pathway to obtaining a Green Card under the EB-1C category, facilitating long-term growth and stability.

New Office: L1 Visa

For individuals from countries that do not fall under the E-1 or E-2 treaty list, the L-1 visa is an invaluable option. To qualify for an L-1 visa when establishing a new office, the petitioner must furnish evidence that includes securing sufficient physical premises for the new office, ensuring the beneficiary meets the one-year continuous employment requirement, and demonstrating the financial capacity to commence business operations in the United States.

Additionally, it is imperative to establish that the intended US operation will be able to support an executive or managerial position within one year if the beneficiary is entering the United States in such a capacity. This thorough process ensures that the L-1 visa serves as a robust framework for non-citizens to successfully embark on their entrepreneurial journey in the US.

L-1 Visa Considerations

For businesses considering the L-1 visa route, it is recommended to allocate a substantial investment of around $100,000 or more. This figure encompasses various expenses, including legal and administrative fees, as well as potential costs associated with establishing a new U.S. office, such as office space, equipment, and initial operational expenses.

Furthermore, the employee must have a minimum of one year of continuous employment with the foreign company within the three years leading up to the L-1 visa application. This period of employment must have taken place outside the United States. This requirement ensures that the employee has established a substantial and genuine relationship with the foreign company before seeking a transfer to a U.S. office or branch.

Eligibility Process

To apply for the L-1 visa, individuals must follow a structured process designed to ensure eligibility and compliance with immigration regulations. Firstly, gather all required documentation, including a completed Form I-129, along with supporting evidence such as proof of qualifying relationship between the U.S. and foreign entity, and the beneficiary’s qualifications and role within the company.

It’s essential to provide detailed job descriptions, organizational charts, and financial documents to demonstrate the legitimacy and viability of both entities. Next, pay the applicable filing fees and submit the application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Once the petition is approved, beneficiaries can schedule a visa interview at their nearest U.S. consulate or embassy, where they will need to present additional documents, including a valid passport and a recent photograph. Adequate preparation and attention to detail throughout the application process will greatly increase the chances of a successful L-1 visa application.

How can we help you?

how to start a business in usa for non citizens

We are dedicated to helping you turn your entrepreneurial dream into reality. Our comprehensive range of services is designed to support you every step of the way:

Business Plan Development

After hiring our services,  we create a meticulously tailored plan that not only showcases the viability of your venture but also highlights its potential for sustained growth.

Investment Guidance

If you’re seeking investment opportunities, we identify suitable businesses for your consideration and provide due diligence support to ensure you make sound investment decisions.

LLC Incorporation

We prioritize handling the establishment of your business entity, such as an LLC, and streamline the entire process for you. We also offer hands-on assistance with the necessary legal documents, providing templates for added convenience.

License and Permits

Our team personally guides you through the process of obtaining any licenses and permits required at the local, state, or federal level.

Corporate Bank Account Creation

We assist you in opening a dedicated corporate bank account, ensuring a clear separation of your business finances.

Soft Landing Affiliate Program

From tailored moving services to expert realtor guidance, we’ve got you covered. Our network of advisors ensures tax compliance, while banking services establish your financial credibility. Access to reputable health insurance and expert assistance with essential tasks, streamline your transition. We also help you explore job opportunities, student programs, and ensure a smooth transition for your children’s education. Your seamless arrival in the U.S. is our priority. With our extensive support, you can embark on your entrepreneurial journey with confidence and ease.

Take the first step towards realizing your dreams with us.

The EB1C Visa Route

Functioning as the immigrant counterpart to the L1 visa, the EB1C visa offers the potential for obtaining a green card, providing a long-term perspective for foreign entrepreneurs. Essentially, the EB1C visa facilitates the transfer of a manager or executive from a foreign company to an affiliated US entity.

The US-based company must operate for at least one full year before filing the EB1C immigrant petition, which is one key requirement that distinguishes the EB1C visa from the L1 visa.

To qualify for the EB1C visa, specific criteria must be met, including a qualifying relationship between the foreign and US companies, a continuous one-year, full-time employment with the foreign company within the three years preceding the application, and ongoing managerial or executive roles in both the foreign and US companies.


Embarking on the journey of starting a business in the United States is a venture filled with promise and potential. It is a path that demands careful consideration and navigates through various visa options, each tailored to the unique circumstances of aspiring entrepreneurs. From the E-2 visa, offering opportunities for investment and active management, to the L-1 visa, providing a framework for intra-company transfers, and the EB-1C visa, paving the way for executives and managers, the options are diverse. The EB-5 program, with its transformative changes in investment amounts, stands as a significant avenue for those seeking to make a substantial impact on the U.S. economy.

At every step of this entrepreneurial journey, Visa Franchise stands as a steadfast partner, offering a comprehensive suite of services designed to guide and support. From crafting tailored business plans to facilitating seamless legal processes, and providing expert guidance on investments, we are committed to turning your entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

Take our free U.S. opportunity assessment today

Mentioned visas

EB2-NIW (green card)

An employment-based visa intended for those who either have an advanced degrees or exceptional ability

Get NIW information

E2 Visa

An employment-based visa intended for those who either have an advanced degrees or exceptional ability

Access E-2 visa details