Entering the U.S. Market

Coming to AmericaImmigration Solutions for Establishing U.S. Operations

As the leading global economy, establishing operations in the U.S. is a significant opportunity for any business. When planning to enter the U.S. companies may consider finding a local U.S. hire to support their entry, or many realize the best person to lead the company during this critical time is someone with company experience within the global operations. This page will help you understand how to ensure key employees can make the move to the U.S.

Many individuals are often wrongly advised and think a Green Card (U.S. permanent residence) is required to work in the U.S. Actually seeking permanent residence for anyone coming to lead a U.S. company is a time consuming and complex process (typically taking a year or many years depending on the category and country of origin). For this reason, companies initially pursue non-immigrant status for such individuals. A non-immigrant status can be issued within a week to several months, depending on the classification sought, and the country the applicant comes from, and it will allow your key person the opportunity to work for at least a year, or several, depending on the visa; most status options we recommend are also extendable before the initial period ends.

Common Options for Setting up in the U.S. and Transferring Key Staff

The first options noted below more directly relate to the specific fact scenario of an individual leading or contributing to a foreign company and seeking to enter and work at the U.S. company, whether new or long established.

L-1 Intracompany transfer

  • Requires qualifying corporate relationship (as parent to subsidiary, subsidiary to parent, affiliated ownership or other recognized relationship)
  • Must have 1 yr of FT employment in last 3 yrs
  • Must hold executive, managerial or specialized knowledge role
  • Initial approval 1 or 3 yrs; extensions issued in 2 yr increments
  • No restrictions on country of origin
  • Dual intent status
  • Initial application filed with USCIS; Blanket applications filed with Consulate

E-2 Treaty Trader

  • Eligibility for visa based on qualifying investment from a treaty country investment
  • Employee seeking visa must match investing country (e.g. Canadian citizen gets E-2 for Canadian investment, on flipside Canadian can’t get E-2 for Swiss investment)
  • Investment is reviewed for sufficiency and marginality
  • Prior employment with foreign employer not required
  • Typically granted 5 yr visa with 2 yr entry allowance (varies between countries)
  • Dual intent status
  • Typically apply through the Consulate

Country/Passport specific options

There are a variety of work visa options that are tied to the passport an individual holds and the work they will perform in the U.S. and they are readily available to individuals as a way to facilitate entry to work not based on the corporate relationship. They are also used to support individuals who may be coming to the U.S. to start a subsidiary or affiliated operations


  • Only available for Canadian and Mexican citizens
  • Limited to 10,000 Mexican visas per annum, no limits to Canadian approvals
  • Covers list of professions recognized under the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement “USMCA”
  • Majority of professions require related degree – e.g. Accountant requires accounting related degree
  • Period of entry up to 3 yrs (4 yr visa for some Mexican applicants)
  • Temporary intent status
  • Canadians can apply at the border, Mexicans through the Consulate


  • Available for Australian citizens only
  • Limited to 10,000 visas per annum
  • Similar to H-1/H-1B1 as position must be specialty occupation (degreed position)
  • LCA required to confirm salary offered is market wage
  • Period of entry – up to 2 yrs
  • Temporary intent status
  • Typically apply through the Consulate (also eligible for USCIS filing)


  • Available for Singaporean and Chilean citizens
  • Limited to 1,800 and 5,000 visas respectively per annum
  • Position must be a specialty occupation (degreed position)
  • LCA required to confirm salary offered is market wage
  • Typically granted 18 month entry and 3 yr visa
  • Temporary intent status
  • Application typically adjudicated by Consulate

Alternatives that will always be considered when starting operations in the U.S., especially when the individual leading the company is either already in the U.S. in H-1B status or has previously held H-1B status, or when it comes to the IEP, when no other clearly available alternative exists.


  • Available to all passport holders, based on lottery for H-1Bs not exempt from the Cap
  • Cap filings limited to ~80,000 per annum [65,000 regular H-1Bs, 20,000 US Master’s or higher degree exempt filings, less any H-1B1s granted to Singapore or Chile]
  • Those hired by Cap Exempt employers can file at any time of year
  • Those hired by a Cap subject employer (most private employers) must first qualify under the Cap; once accepted under the Cap, the H-1B can be transferred to other employers
  • Position must be a specialty occupation (degreed position)
  • LCA required to confirm salary offered is market wage
  • Typically granted 3 yrs, visa maximum of 6 years of total H-1B time
  • Dual intent status
  • Application filed with USCIS

International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP)

  • Parole status created for founders of companies that receive funding
  • Available to all passport holders, no caps or quotas
  • Founder must own 10% or more of company and have received $250k or more from qualified investor
  • Period of entry – 2.5 yrs for initial approval, with 1 extension available for same period
  • Spousal and family Parole available as well
  • Temporary intent entry allowance
  • Application filed with USCIS