National Interest Waiver Green Card For Founders Of Startups

Many top researchers, scientists, and professors must deal with immigration issues when considering starting up a new company in the United States. This comes up either for themselves or to attract the foreign talent they need to spur growth in their companies. Getting the funding they need for their company can be contingent on getting the green card. An International Entrepreneur Rule had been proposed allowing foreigners with an ownership stake in a startup to live in the U.S. for 30 months. This rule has stalled, but there are still options.

Based in San Diego, the Law Office of Suzanne Granja has more 20 years of experience advising clients throughout California and across the country on immigration matters. Ms. Granja has worked with foreign professionals in many fields from medical technology to engineering and artificial intelligence some of whom have started up US companies. She has successfully obtained green cards through the national interest waiver category for these individuals.

As a former corporate immigration lawyer, Ms. Granja knows the difficulty in getting personal attention in a large assembly-line environment. In her own practice, she spends time getting to know clients and their immigration goals to offer tailored solutions.

E Visa Categories

Another option for some foreign nationals starting up their own company is the E visa. This nonimmigrant investor visa category is for treaty traders (E-1) or investors (E-2). It allows you to stay for two years at a time, but can be renewed.

One of the broad requirements is that you must be a resident of a country that has a commerce treaty in place with the United States. Most countries have these treaties but some only allow for one category and not both, you can review a current list of countries here.

The initial startup funds needed for a principal investor E-2 visa must be placed at risk. The E-2 investor must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the company operations in which they have invested. Sources that you can tap for this investment include:

  • Gifts from cofounders, friends or family
  • Your own savings or assets from the sale of property
  • Inheritance

Issues can arise when venture capital or angel donors directly invest in the company. A loan secured by company assets also will not qualify.

Determinations of what constitutes a "substantial" investment vary based on the nature of the business. No set dollar amount exists like the requirement on the EB-5 green card. Investments can take many forms from physical items to intellectual property rights from patents.

What Are The Immigration Issues For Startups

Find out how starting up a company might affect your immigration goals. Speak with attorney Suzanne Granja at 760-494-0302. You can also arrange a free telephone consultation by sending an email.

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