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January 7 2013

USCIS Hopes to Recruit Entrepreneurs to the U.S.

By: Nathaniel R. Wolf

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) initiated the Entrepreneurs in Residence (“EIR”) initiative by launching an online resource center to assist entrepreneurs in navigating the complicated U.S. immigration system.  The resource center, Entrepreneur Pathways, provides entrepreneurs who seek to start a business in the U.S. a simple way to navigate the immigration process.  The initiative is in response to recent criticism of its often cumbersome immigration system that makes it difficult for aspiring entrepreneurs without U.S. passports to start businesses in the U.S.  Two immigration options currently exist for foreign entrepreneurs. 

The EB-5 investor visa is a permanent residence options for entrepreneurs is reserved for investors who invest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers. 

The temporary E-2 visa is available for nations of countries where a qualifying treaty exists with the U.S.  To see if your nation qualifies, please visit the Department of State’s Treaty Countries webpage.  In addition, the applicant must have invested or be in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide U.S. enterprise.  Finally, the investor must show that he or she controls the enterprise by owning 50% or more of the enterprise, or by showing that he or she has operational control through a managerial position.

A collaboration of business leaders, religious leaders and immigrant rights advocates are pushing Congress to pass a bipartisan and comprehensive immigration bill which would, among other things, relax the requirements for foreign investors hoping to launch companies in the U.S. and expand options for highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs.   

If you are a foreign-born entrepreneur looking to start a business in the U.S. and would like to consult with an experienced immigration attorney, please feel free to contact Nate Wolf at or 616-632-8000.