Foreign Entrepreneurs Series | Part 2: Immigrant Visas

In May, we began a series discussing some of the issues faced by foreign entrepreneurs when starting businesses in the United States. In that post, we discussed the importance of evaluating available visa options before taking more significant and costly steps toward a new venture.  We also discussed the various nonimmigrant (temporary) visas available to entrepreneurs. This is the second post in the series—a discussion of the immigrant (permanent) visas available to foreign entrepreneurs. By saying immigrant visas are permanent, we mean that the end result is permanent residence—i.e. a green card. This is not to be confused with citizenship, which may be attained after three to five years of permanent residency.

There are two categories of immigrant visas:  family-based (not relevant to our discussion) and employment-based. The number of immigrant visas (like some nonimmigrant visas) available each year are limited. Because of this, there is frequently a backlog and extensive wait times after an application is filed before a visa becomes available. The Department of State puts out a schedule each month showing the filing date of applications currently eligible to receive visas. Certain visa categories, such as the EB-1 discussed below, are most often current, as these categories have the smallest pool of applications simply due to their stringent eligibility criteria. The further down the list you go to the visa categories requiring less skill and lower standards, the more backlogged the categories are because the pool of applicants is much larger. Additionally, the numbers are limited by country, so nationals of certain countries with traditionally high rates of immigration (typically China, India, Mexico and the Philippines) will have much longer wait times than nationals of other countries.

You can continue reading this blog post on Knowing Startups.

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