THE U.S. IMMIGRATION SYSTEM IS A MUDDLE OF ABBREVIATIONS. HERE ARE SOME OF THE MAIN VISAS THAT ENTREPRENEURS AND THOSE WHO HOPE TO START COMPANIES USE IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ACTUAL STARTUP VISA.
An individual on this temporary business visa is not permitted to accept employment or work in the U.S. Some would-be entrepreneurs use it to do unpaid, early-stage research.
A nonimmigrant visa for an investor who comes from a country with a commerce treaty with the United States. The list of applicable countries is long but does not include mainland China or India.
The primary three-year visa for big-company workers. Some entrepreneurs apply for it, too, using their own startup as the sponsoring company. The problem is that they must be an employee of the company and receive prevailing wages from it. They’re also limited in how much of the company they can own.
A visa for foreign executives who need to work at a U.S. division, this one is effective for founders whose companies are already established overseas but need to be in the U.S. for a temporary period.
The visa for those with extraordinary ability, which could mean entrepreneurial skills. It presents relatively high hurdles, so founders generally will apply after going through an accelerator program and gaining some funding and media attention.
Entrepreneurs and other grads who’d been on an F-1 student visa can stay in the U.S. for a year for “optional practical training.”