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Establishing a startup corporation as an immigrant and working legally for it

New York, NY |

I am an Australian citizen, and want to establish a business in the USA. I have a completed high quality business plan and all the details ready to go. My startup costs are approximately between 400 and 500k. I do not currently have any business
incorporated, partly because I am was working overseas in Germany. I am now in New York.

It is very important that my company be based in America due to the target markets and such, and that I maintain control of the company. I am fine with sacrificing quite a lot of the stock, or having partners etc, but I want the company to be in my name and to be CEO or equivalent.

My problem is that I can not enter the US except to work for another company. The visas I found for starting a new business require I personally invest the money. I would like to know how this problem could be handled, would an investor give me money personally(under a contract of course) which I could then use to fulfill the requirements of an investor visa, or would there be some other way?

I was considering pursuing an L1 visa, but this is cutting it to close to the time limits in which I would need to unleash and capitalize on my technology. I would have to wait until I go back to Australian and start and operate a company there for at least one year.

I have no funding at the moment, only a completed business plan, which I am hoping to pitch to VC's or Angel investors. But I am unclear on the process as I do not hold a US visa.

My main question is is funding still possible and is it possible to
establish and maintain control of a business in the us if you are not a us citizen?

Otherwise, if I were to have a partner set up the business, would it be possible that the partner has no or very little say and input into company decisions? Could I then also be hired by my partner as director or similar?

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Filed under: Immigration US visas
Attorney answers 2


Hi, you have a really tricky situation and will have a very hard time setting things up without a business immigration attorney. Theoretically, there would be several ways for you to get a visa that would allow you to come to the U.S. to run and control the US business. You do not necessarily have to be the investor and do not necessarily need an investor visa. To have the best chance for success you will need to sufficiently capitalize the business. Whats trciky about this is that an immigration or consular officer, generally one without business experience, will be charged with deciding if you have sufficient capital. There may be some other approaches, but immigration is very fact specific. Good luck,


Are you familiar with the E-3 Visa? It is similar to the H-1B (e.g. you must have a bachelor's degree or the equivalent). This visa category (E-3) is only available to Australians (limited to 10,000 per year). While you also must have a U.S. company offer you a position, there are no rules prohibiting your ownership in the company. Also, keep in mind that an L-1 will only be available to you if your U.S. company is owned or affiliated with a company that you have also worked for over the last 3 years. If you think you may qualify, please contact me for more information.

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