The American Visa

In this section we present a brief analysis of the most used visas by entrepreneurs who want to invest and live in the US.

The US is characterized by being made up of a great free and open society. Citizens from all over the world who come to do business, work temporarily, study or live in the country with an American visa are welcome in its vast territory. The type of visa required to carry out each of these activities is stipulated in the Immigration Law.

There are two categories of visas:

  1. Non-Immigrant Visas.
  2. Emigrant Visas.

Non-immigrant visas are issued to aliens who wish to stay in the US temporarily for reasons such as recreation, business, study, or medical treatment. Immigrant Visas, on the other hand, can be obtained through employment or through family relationship with a US citizen or resident.

I. Nonimmigrant Visas

In general, foreigners who apply for a non-immigrant visa have to prove that they do not intend to settle permanently in the US. Although there are more than a dozen non-immigrant visas, we will analyze the ones that are most requested by the Spanish-speaking users, which are the following:

  • B-1 — Temporary Business Visa: issued to foreign visitors who come to the United States to carry out incidental activities related to their business or profession. It is usually granted for a term of 6 months.
  • B-2 — Temporary Tourist Visa: issued to foreign visitors who come to the United States for recreational activities. It is usually granted for a term of 6 months.
  • E-1 – Merchant Visa: grants the foreign person the ability to work in the US in a business where they hold shareholder control. This visa can be renewed every two years, throughout the life of the applicant, and as long as their company remains in operation.

The E-1 visa is granted only to nationals of countries that have signed trade and navigation treaties with the US.

Signatory Countries of Trade and Navigation Treaties with the USA.

Africa:Liberia, Ethiopia, Togo
Asia:Taiwan, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Kosovo, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
Central America:Honduras, Costa Rica
Europe:Austria, Germany, Belgium, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Brunei, Croatia, Spain, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia , England, Denmark, Macedonia .
The Middle East:Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan and Turkey.
North America:Canada and Mexico
South America:Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Suriname
El CaribeGrenada, Jamaica

Source: Bureau of Consular Affairs, US Department of State.

E2 — Investor Visa: grants the foreign person the ability to work in the US in a business where he or she has share control. This visa can be renewed every two years, throughout the life of the applicant, and as long as their company remains in operation.

The E-2 visa is granted only to nationals of countries that have signed investment treaties with the US. The following table shows the benefited countries by region:


Signatory Countries of the Investment Treaty with the USA.

Africa:Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia
Asia:Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, East Timor.
Central America:Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama
Europe:Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia , Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
The Middle East:Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan and Türkiye.
North America:Canada and Mexico
South America:Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Suriname
El CaribeGrenada, Jamaica and Trinidad-Tobago

Source: Bureau of Consular Affairs, US Department of State.

The regulations that govern the E-2 visa refer to the need to invest a "substantial amount" that must be in line with the type of business to be developed. The sum of $150,000 could be assumed as a reasonable average to invest in these cases.

The owner's approval generally covers the spouse and children under the age of 21. The spouse can apply for permission to work in the US.

  • F-1 — Student Visa: The visa F-1 authorizes the foreign student to carry out studies in the different educational centers of the US that are authorized by the Federal Government to issue Form I-20. The F-1 visa is only issued at US embassies and consulates. The foreign student must enroll in a full course of study and must have sufficient means of support to cover him and his dependents for the entire duration. of the program.
  • H-1B — Hired Professional Visa: it is issued in favor of foreign professionals who have a degree in university careers of more than four years of study or who show evidence of having four years of experience in the field for each year of university performance. The candidate for this visa must have a sponsoring entity in the US that issues a work contract authorized by the Department of Labor. Each year issuance quotas of 65,000 H-1B visas are usually established. The visa is granted for three years and can only be extended for an equal term. Covers spouse and children under 21 years of age.
  • L-1 — Visa for Transferred Executive: applies to foreigners who perform managerial functions abroad and are transferred from the foreign company to its affiliate or subsidiary in the US. The advantage of the L-1 visa is that the beneficiary can eventually adjust his immigration status and become a permanent resident in the US The applicant must have worked outside the country for the foreign company for a continuous period of at least one year within the last three years. The foreign company must be operating, possess the necessary qualifications and continue to do business for the duration of the visa. The L-1 visa is usually issued for an initial period of one year if the North American company is new or 3 years if it is an ongoing company. The term of coverage of the visa can be extended for up to seven consecutive years.
  • O 1 — Visa for Foreigner with Extraordinary Abilities: it is issued to foreigners who have developed special abilities and demonstrated success in some branch of the sciences, arts, education, business, or sports. Only a person who has reached the top of their career can qualify for an O-1 visa. Said person has to prove that his career is recognized nationally or internationally and that he is a prominent and respected person in his field of activity. The O-1 visa is usually issued for a period of 3 years.

II. Immigrant Visas (Permanent Residence)

Emigrant visas that grant the applicant permanent residence (Green Card) in the US are divided into 3 main categories:

Once the application for a visa is approved, the foreigner can obtain their residence through a process of migratory "adjustment of status" if they are in US territory, or by following the consular procedure if they are abroad.


  • to. Immediate Relatives of Citizens of the United States This type of visa is available to foreigners who are spouses, children under 21 years of age or parents of a United States citizen and are not limited by quotas of any kind.
  • b. Categories in Order of Preference.
    1. Preference: Unmarried children, over 21 years of age, of US Citizens.
    2. Preference: Spouses, Children, Unmarried Children of Permanent Residents.
    3. Preference: Married Children of US Citizens.
    4. Preference: Siblings of US Citizens.

The visas granted in order of preference are subject to annual quotas in each category.


  • EB-1. 1st Preference: This visa leads directly to residence (Green Card) and was created to favor qualified foreigners as "priority workers". Its issuance is limited to 40,000 visas per year. The EB-1 visa is issued to aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business, or athletics; to professors and researchers; and to executives and managers of multinational companies transferred to the US. This visa does not require a "labor certification" but the foreigner must demonstrate that his extraordinary ability has earned him prestige at national and international levels. Your achievements should be recognized in your field of work through a range of documents. A job offer is not required for an alien of "extraordinary ability," but he must state that he intends to seek work in the US in his area of ​​specialization. Outstanding professors and researchers must have at least 3 years of experience in their field and have a job offer in the United States. Executives and managers of multinational companies must demonstrate that they have worked for a period of not less than one year within of the last 3 years for the international company doing business in the US.
  • EB-2. 2nd preference. This visa is available for professionals with advanced university degrees. As a general rule, the foreigner must have an offer of employment and a labor certification to obtain this visa. The issuance of these visas is limited to 40,000 per year.
  • EB-3. 3rd preference. The EB-3 visa is issued to professionals, skilled workers, and other workers who are required in certain areas of local economic activity. This category requires a job offer in the US and a labor certification to be granted. Its issuance is limited to 40,000 per year
  • EB-4. 4th preference. This visa is available to foreign nationals who want to reacquire their US citizenship and for religious workers.
  • EB-5. 5th preference. The EB-5 visa is intended for investors willing to make a substantial investment that will create a significant number of jobs for US citizens and permanent residents.

The investor can manage his own company or acquire shares in an investment project classified by the Federal Government as a "Regional Center".

The minimum amount to invest is one million dollars unless it is an economically affected region or a “Regional Center”, in which case the minimum amount is reduced to $500,000. This capital must be put at risk in order to generate a profit. The money invested must have a verifiable legal origin.

If the investor manages his own company, he must generate a minimum of ten full-time local jobs. The "Regional Centers" are private investment projects that generate substantial amounts of employment and economic activity in their areas of influence.

The residence granted under the EB-5 category is conditional. The foreign investor must file a petition to remove the condition within the second anniversary of the grant of residence. If it is determined that the foreigner did not keep the new company operating in accordance with the commitments made with the Federal Government, the “Green Card” could be suspended.


The diversity visa program is offered to foreign nationals from countries whose citizens are considered "low admission" to the US Visas are randomly designated by lottery and are usually limited to 55,000 cases per year.

The American visa is a privilege

Disclaimer: The opinions presented by the companies and professionals on this website are for guidance information only, and are not the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information contained herein should not be used as a substitute for consulting with legal, tax, accounting or other competent advisors. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with a qualified professional who has received all the pertinent information related to each particular case.

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