What You Need to do Business in the USA
Canadians who want to establish business enterprises in the United States can do so by applying for a number of different business investor Visa’s. Some Visa’s are temporary and some will transition to permanent resident status so you need to determine the best path for you and your business.
The first step for Canadians to establish business in the U.S. is acquiring an investor Visa. The E-2 and EB-5 are the two most popular programs for Canadian entrepreneurs.
Investor Green Card
Not all investor Visa’s will provide access to a permanent resident green card. The most popular Visa program for Canadians looking to acquire a Green Card is the EB-5 Investor Visa.
Most Popular U.S. Business Visa’s for Canadians
E-2 Treaty Investors
As a treaty investor, you must be coming to the United States to invest in a new or existing enterprise. USCIS defines an E-2 investment as the investor’s placing of capital, including funds and other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. Your investment may be for the purpose of establishing a new business venture, or purchasing a pre-existing business. In either scenario, you must demonstrate that the capital you are investing is substantial. There is no exact investment amount required as this is determined on a case by case basis, but it is generally thought that a minimum $100,000 investment is recommended to enhance your chances of approval.
General Qualifications of a Treaty Investor
- Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
- Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
- Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
The E-2 Visa is a temporary work Visa that does not transition to a permanent resident green card although you can request extensions in increments of up to two years and there is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 non-immigrant may be granted as long as the business is operational and profitable. All E-2 non-immigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated. E-2 Visa holders are only authorized to work for the business that their Visa is approved for.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise. Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to a sole proprietorship, Partnership, Holding company, Joint venture, Corporation, Business trust, or Other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned.
Required Minimum Capital Investment
The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1.8 million dollars. The minimum qualifying investment either within a targeted employment area (TEA) in the United States is $900,000. Capital means cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the alien entrepreneur, provided that the alien entrepreneur is personally and primarily liable and that the assets of the new commercial enterprise upon which the petition is based are not used to secure any of the indebtedness. All capital shall be valued at fair-market value in United States dollars.
Job Creation Requirements
An EB-5 investor must invest the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise that will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees.
Green Card Opportunity
After 2 years, an EB-5 investor has the opportunity to transition to a permanent resident Green Card and eventually U.S. Citizenship.