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Obtaining a Visa as an Entrepreneur

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on May 10, 2021

For immigrant entrepreneurs, there are several visa options available in the U.S. Each visa has certain advantages and disadvantages to consider when selecting the right one for a particular business venture.

The following are details about some of the different visas and how to determine which is the most appropriate.


EB-1 visas are intended for entrepreneurs who wish to work permanently in the United States. Five different types of EB-visas are ideal for business owners, each of which comes with its own order of preference.

EB-1 Visas: First Preference

The EB-1 visa specifically pertains to individuals who either have:

  • Nationally or internationally acclaimed skills in the sciences, education, arts, athletics, or business. Employment offers aren’t required in these cases.
  • Skills in teaching or research. Individuals will need to be pursuing either tenure or tenure track at a higher education institution.
  • A position as a multinational manager or executive.

EB-2 Visas: Second Preference

Immigrant entrepreneurs on EB-2 visas will receive lower priority than EB-1 visa applicants, but higher than other employment-based applicants. These apply to those seeking a job requiring an advanced degree or equivalent, excellent skills in the arts, sciences, or business, or individuals requesting that the wavering of the ordinarily mandatory labor certification (PERM). It may be possible to have the PERM waivered if an applicant reasons that it’s in the country’s best interest to allow him or her to live and work there.

There are additional qualifications to consider for EB-2 applications, such as 10 years of full-time experience in an occupation.

EB-5 Visas: Fifth Preference

Between EB-2 and EB-5 visas, the visas are similar to the first two with descending priority, but EB-5 is somewhat different. This visa is intended for individuals who plan on investing in the U.S. as opposed to simply gaining employment.

Individuals and their families, including unwed children under 21, may qualify if they meet a minimum investment amount or intend to create or maintain a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for employees who qualify.

Other Types of Visas

There are a couple of other visas for entrepreneurs with different qualifications, including H-1B non-immigrant visas for specialty occupations, E-2 visas for treaty investors, and L-1 visas for intracompany transferees.

When deciding on any type of visa, the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Wizard may be able to help select the appropriate type, enabling workers to gain entry into the U.S.