Most British enter the US on the visa waiver scheme which allows them the stay up to 90 days. Others who travel more regularly may require a “B” visa which will allow them to stay for up to 6 months in any 12 month period.
Those who wish to reside in the US will need expert, professional guidance on deciding upon which visa is most suitable and the handling of the application process. We can recommend expert specialists to act on your behalf and below is their brief summary of the most common visas available.
E-2 Visa Overview
The E-2 Visa is generally appropriate for investors entering the United States to either purchase or start-up a qualifying business. For a business investment to qualify in the E-2 category, it must meet certain criteria including:
The investment enterprise must be controlled by the treaty investor. This typically means that the investor must own at least 50% of the investment enterprise.
The investment must be in an actively trading business, not in a passive enterprise such as the mere ownership of rental property.
The investment must involve funds for which the investor is personally at risk. Loans secured by the assets of the enterprise are generally not acceptable. As a result, investors in the E-2 category cannot generally utilise seller financing in the purchase of a business.
The investment must be substantial. You should note however, that the substantial nature of the investment is not measured in absolute dollar terms, but rather by comparing the amount invested with the amount actually required to either purchase or start-up the enterprise. You should also note, that the E-2 Visa regulations never specify a certain dollar amount of investment as being a qualifying one for E-2 Visa purposes.
The enterprise must not be marginal. An enterprise is generally marginal if it can only support the investor and his/her family, without generating enough revenue to employ other US workers. E-2 Visa regulations never specify that a certain dollar amount of income is required to meet the marginality requirement, or that a certain number or class of workers must be employed.
L-1A Visa Overview
The L-1A Visa is generally appropriate for a manager or executive entering the United States to work for the same or affiliate employer for which the alien worked abroad for at least one year within the preceding three years. While the L-1A Visa is not intended to be a vehicle for investors to transfer themselves to the US, such transfers are in fact common. For a worker to qualify in the L-1A category, the following criteria must be met:
There must be an affiliated relationship between the US and foreign employer. Affiliation is generally defined by common ownership and/or control, and can exist in several situations, including direct ownership, and brother/sister corporate relationships.
Both the US and foreign employer must continue to trade and employ workers during the entire period of the L-1A manager/executive's stay in the US. You should note however, that the L-1A regulations do not require that the US and foreign employers be in the same line of business. Nor do they specify that a certain dollar amount of turnover be realised by either company, or that a certain number or class of workers be employed.
The proposed L-1A transferee must have worked abroad for the foreign firm, or a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the foreign firm, for a continuous period of one year within the three preceding years of the transfer.
The one year of continuous employment described above must be in an executive or managerial capacity. It is important to note that job titles are generally not indicative of executive or managerial capacity, and that the authorities tend to focus instead on the actual duties performed by the applicant, and the number and types of workers the applicant supervises.
The position the L-1A transferee intends to fill in the US must also be executive or managerial.
The L-1A transferee must be coming to the US for a temporary period. Regulations do not however, require the applicant to maintain a foreign residence, and the intention to seek permanent residence (green card) in the US eventually will not exclude the possibility of obtaining an L-1A Visa.