Whether you’re currently conducting international business or looking to start or invest in a business in the United States, it’s beneficial to understand immigration and business terms commonly used in the business immigration application process. Being familiar with the legal jargon helps you to communicate clearly with other individuals involved in the process including business brokers, sellers, and your immigration attorney. If you’re looking to do business in the U.S. for the first time, here’s a list of terms you are likely to hear during the business set-up and application process. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency that oversees immigration to the United States, maintains a useful list of immigration terms on its website which you can visit here!
The process where USCIS’ reviews and makes a decision to approve or deny an application for an immigration benefit.
Any individual not a citizen or national of the United States; also referred to as a foreign national.
An individual looking to immigrate to the United States, for whom a relative or employer in the U.S. has filed a visa petition in order to sponsor them. A “principal beneficiary” is an individual who is named on an immigrant or nonimmigrant petition or application. A “derivative beneficiary” is a family member of the principal beneficiary who may be eligible to accompany the the principal beneficiary based on their family relationship.
A person becomes a United States citizen by being born in the United States or its territories, through their parents or through naturalization (applying for citizenship and passing the citizenship exam).
An individual who is granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis (for example, a spouse of a U.S. citizen or an immigrant investor may in certain instances receive two years on their first green card), however, their status expires after a set period of time. Individuals must petition to remove the conditions of their status before the second anniversary of the approval date of their conditional status.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa
A nonimmigrant business visa which allows foreign nationals of a treaty nation to come to the United States to engage in substantial trade. Trade includes the exchange, purchase, or sale of goods and services, the transfer of technology; and binding contracts that call for the immediate exchange of items of trade. Such trade must be proven to be stable and ongoing. Numerous requirements must first be satisfied in order to use this visa.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
A nonimmigrant business visa allowing foreign nationals of a treaty country to come to the U.S. to invest a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Numerous requirements must be satisfied to use this visa to work in the United States.
EIN / FEIN
A federal tax identification number (Employer Identification Number or Federal Employer Identification Number) is a nine digit number that enables organized business entities to pay taxes, file tax returns and report to both state and federal authorities as may be required. EINs are generally required to open bank accounts and conduct business on behalf of limited liability companies (LLCs), corporations or other legal entities organized or incorporated for the general purpose of conducting business or owning property in the United States. EIN’s may only be obtained from the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service.
I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agency responsible for screening individuals entering the United States, issues I-94 arrival/departure records to legal nonimmigrants entering the United States and stamps the admission date, class of admission, and the date the authorized stay ends into the traveller’s passport. At airports, I-94 arrival/departure are issued electronically and can be retrieved by visiting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. At land border crossings and seaports, nonimmigrants are paper I-94 arrival/departure records that are stapled into the passport.
The act of entering into another country to take up permanent or semi-permanent residence. The term is often used interchangeably with emigration.
An individual who does not meet the legal requirements to enter the United States.
The L-1 nonimmigrant visa is a temporary work visa designed to enable companies to transfer key executive, managers or specialized knowledge workers from affiliated their offices outside of the United States to affiliated or subsidiary offices in the United States for temporary periods of time ranging up to 5 years for L-1B workers and 7 years for L-1A managers or executives. Numerous requirements must be met to enable a company to utilize this visa to transfer workers into the United States.
An individual who is coming to the United States for a temporary period to engage in business, travel, study or other permissible activities as dictated by the visa or status classification.
Permanent Resident Investor Visa
Entrepreneurs from overseas (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and who plan to create or preserve ten permanent full time jobs for qualified United States workers, are eligible to apply for permanent residence in the United States.
The individual with the highest authority who will direct and develop the enterprise and make all final decisions regarding the investment.
For E-2 investors the law does not state a fixed dollar amount which is considered “substantial”. The amount of the investment; however, must have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide minimal living for the investor and his/her family, or make a significant economic contribution to the United States.
A travel document issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy that enables the bearer to travel to the United States to request admission into the county in the specified visa classification. Visas can only be obtained at U.S. embassies or consulates.
While this blog post represents only a small portion of important business immigration terms, these are some of the most commonly used terms during the application process. If you’re still unsure about a particular topic, or would like our assistance through the process, don’t be afraid to ask us here! We’re more than happy to help any way we can in regards to starting or buying a business in the United States.