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How can I start a business with a B-1/B-2 visa, then transform it to an EB-5 enterprise?

My father and I plan to start a business in the U.S. with the hope of making it an EB-5 project ultimately. Given the huge investment required by EB-5, we want to start the process first and generate income before submitting the application. Are we allowed to start a company in the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa, which we already have? If we are, can we use income from this company as EB-5 capital?

Answers

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can start formation of a business entity in the U.S., but you are not authorized to be actively managing a business in B status. You can be a passive investor in such business with an employment-authorized manager in the U.S. to run the business. Any earnings for which you are not employment authorized are not considered lawful source of funds for EB-5 purposes. You should explore E-2 or L-1A visa routes if you are eligible.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Whether you are a B-1/B-2 visitor in the U.S. or abroad, you have the right to start a business in the U.S. But you are not authorized to work in that business. Although as a practical matter, that can make it difficult unless you are staffing the business with other parties. You could start the business first and generate income, but you are not eligible to work in the business. It would have to be determined whether or not you could obtain an appropriate non-immigrant work visa, such as an L-1 intra-company transferee or E-2 non-immigrant treaty investor visa, assuming you are a national of a country that has a trade agreement with the United States that has a treaty investor provision. Yes, if you start a business in the U.S., you could use the income from the company as a possible lawful source of income.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You cannot work for a U.S. company under a B-1/B-2. Even setting up a U.S. company may be difficult without the guidance of an immigration attorney.

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    Belma Chinchoy

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You are allowed to form a company while in B-1/B-2 visa status but you are not allowed to work in the U.S. It is difficult to explain here what activities are allowed for B-1/B-2 status, but one way to think of it is this: If you are engaged in the day-to-day operations of the company, you are violating the visa status. I recommend you consult with an attorney to determine if you qualify for another type of visa that could be obtained immediately and that would allow you to work in the U.S. In general, profits/income earned from a U.S.-based company are eligible as source of funds for an EB-5 investment.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can start it but not work in it. Unless you qualify for an E-2 or L-1A, you will need to depart soon.

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can invest in a business under B-1/B-2 visitor status. However, you may not work or operate the business under that status. It is possible to use the investment made in that business for EB-5 purposes thereafter.

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