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How do I operate a business as a B1/B2 visa holder?

I am a 50+ Indian national. I am graduate of a U.S. university, and have visited the U.S. 4-5 times a year on business (B1/B2 Visa) for the past 20+ years. I have recently invested in an EB-5 project and I believe the wait time is 16-24 months. In the meantime, I plan starting a business in U.S. and would like to know if I can own and operate a business myself. Based on my own research, it appears that until my I-526 comes through( and I am at least granted a temporary green card), I have to operate through a qualified attorney or a secretary in the U.S. Is this legal & safe to do without jeopardizing my investment in the existing EB-5 project? Any guidance will be greatly appreciated.

Answers

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    Reza Rahbaran

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Your visitor visa does not authorizes you to work in the United States. However, you may be a business owner and hire a manager to run your business.

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    Shahzad Q Qadri

    RC Creator
    Answered on

    Your understanding is correct. You cannot work, or actively engage, in running the entity on a B-1/B-2. That is akin to working in the United States and will be a violation of the visa. You can certainly appoint an agent or hire employees who are eligible to work. Another option may be to try to get an L-1 visa pending the approval of your EB-5.

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can''t really start a business here on a B-1/B-2, which is only for temporary visits for business or pleasure. Even though you might be able to start the business, and not perform any services/employment and not receive any compensation such that you would be engaging in unauthorized employment (you would be merely a passive investor), it would seem that your intention would not be temporary/nonimmigrant. It is better to wait until you have an immigration status, i.e., green card, which is in line with your actual intent.

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    Jeffrey E Campion

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You cannot own and operate a business in the U.S. unless you have a visa that allows you to operate it. That being said, you could be an owner of a business and hire an operator. You could travel on your B-1 for business meetings and organizational issues, leaving the operations to the operator you hire.

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    Philip H Teplen

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Your question has many options and varies depending upon you current business goals and business status in India. I suggest that you call me to personally consult.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The issue you face here is dual intent. If you are already here on a nonimmigrant visa (the B), you had to have shown intent to leave the U.S. at the end of the period of authorized stay. If wish to apply for an immigrant visa (the EB-5) during that time, it contradicts that intent to depart and could cause issues. Looking at it from the other way, if you apply for the immigrant visa (EB-5), you can''t show the intent to depart the U.S. for a new B visa. Fortunately, having someone in the U.S. operate the business that you are investing in shouldn''t cause any issues with the pending I-526. However, it is best to retain qualified U.S. immigration counsel with EB-5 experience (like our law firm) to assist and represent you.

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    Ed Beshara

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    During the I-526 process you cannot live and work in the U.S. under the B1-B2 status. You can visit the U.S. to enter into business agreements and visit places of interest under the B1/B2 status. Also during the I-526 process you do not obtain a temporary green card. The approval of the I-526 petition will be the basis for the investor to apply for the conditional permanent residency through the U.S. consulate. Once the conditional permanent residency is obtained then only at this stage you can live and operate a business in the U.S.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    As I am sure you are aware, you may not work in your business on a B-1/B-2. I do not know if you are eligible for either an L-1A or E-2 without knowing more details, but this would be one way to work in the business while waiting for EB-5 (if you are eligible for the L-1A you may not need an EB-5 and can use the EB-1-3 for your green card). Otherwise the best strategy would be to hire a manager until you can be here. If you would like a consultation on your options call for an appointment. ation

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