How Can Individuals And Businesses Solidify Their Presence In The US?

Since the 19th century, people have been migrating to the US to find work and better economic prospects. Indians in particular have a special affinity for the American Dream. 

A report titled   ‘International Migration 2020 Highlights’ by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) stated that  India has the largest diaspora population in the world with 18 million people.  Of these, the  UAE, the US and Saudi Arabia host the largest number of Indians.


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In 2018, The American Community Survey, a demographics survey program conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau stated that there are over 4.2 million Indian-origin people in the United States. These numbers continue to grow because the economic opportunities offered by the U.S. are unlike anywhere else in the world. This is arguably the most diverse country in the world with some of the best universities as well as abundant employment and business opportunities. Students who come here to study often obtain high-paying jobs immediately after finishing their degrees.  

As per the US Census Bureau 2010 and American Community Surveys of 2019, owing to educational exchange programs and issuance of temporary visas for highly skilled workers, the number of Indians immigrating to the US increased 13-fold. Open Doors, another comprehensive information resource on international students in the U.S, said in a 2022 report that nearly a fifth (over 167,582) of the international student population is comprised of Indian students. 

From Indians at the helm of Twitter and Google and many other businesses to a South-Asian Ms. Marvel and Indian stars, musicians and content creators making inroads into American popular culture, a fusion of ideas and identities seems to be unfolding.

For Indian students, as I mentioned before, the U.S. continues to be a dream destination but how many aspirants really understand the challenges of actually making it to the U.S.?

Here are the basics to begin with: 

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An F-1 visa is needed if you want to pursue academic studies while an M-1 visa is needed if you are aspiring to vocational and technical studies. 

For exchange programs, a J-1 visa is required. For married students, a spouse can travel with an F2 visa. The dependent’s visa can be changed to an F1 visa or employment visa later.

How can students continue to stay in the U.S. after their courses have concluded?

Upon the completion of graduation, F1 visa holders can work for a year through Optional Practical Training (OPT). This visa extension opportunity provides a platform for students to get practical experience in their field of expertise, after which they can apply for a work visa to continue their stay in the U.S.

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Those pursuing subjects like Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) will be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension, which will allow  them to extend their stay in the U.S. for another 24 months after they graduate. 

But an important point students must keep in mind while applying for OPT are the travel regulations. If you leave the country before joining a job and obtaining an Employment Authorization Card (EAD), you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. with ease.

Individuals can also work and live in the U.S. with H-1, O-1, L-1, and P-1 visas. While an O-1 visa is issued to people with extraordinary abilities in the fields of science, arts, and education, an L-1 is issued to intra-company transferees, and a P-1 is for entertainers like artists or athletes.

How can professionals extend their time in the U.S.?

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Professionals like professors, lawyers, IT specialists, doctors, accountants, and architects can stay in the U.S. with an H-1B for three years and this duration can be extended by another three years. A green card can, however, be obtained through employer sponsorship. Circumstances pertaining to a request for asylum are different so we won’t discuss them here but, under normal circumstances, sponsorship from a relative who may be an entrepreneur in the U.S. can help.

What about entrepreneurs?

A native citizen or a foreigner can register a business in the U.S. Limited Liability Company (LLC) and Corporations (C-Corp) are two different entities available for non-U.S. citizens. S-corporations that meet specific Internal Revenue Code requirements are restricted to citizens and permanent residents. A C-Corp (any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners)  can expand with unlimited stock and this is mostly opted for by non-citizens. If you already have a business in India operating for more than 12 months and have more than four employees, you can use an L-1 visa to trade in the U.S.. An E2 visa is not applicable for Indians; though they may be eligible for a start-up visa.

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Registration of your business can be done under the purview of a state law depending on the tax-friendly state you choose. A business can be registered quickly in just about an hour and a bank account can be opened in about 30 minutes after obtaining a tax ID for a business. There is no minimum investment to register a business. Nor do you need to open a bank account. An investment amount is relevant only when one is trying to get an immigration status based on the investment. 

Registration is important as it helps in starting and expanding a business in the U.S. and provides access to a bigger market. Some of the outsourcing companies from India have their legal entity registered in the U.S. which allows them to conduct business effectively and manage payments, expenses, taxes, marketing and dollar transfers to India. In fact, the U.S. has a much better sales tax structure compared to  India. Additionally, there are different types of visas available for start-ups, businesses, and investors. 

Why is the Green Card a holy grail for immigrants?

A Green Card, known officially as a permanent resident card, is an identity document which ensures permanent residency in the United States.  With a Green Card, immigrants can live, travel and work in the U.S. without restrictions. There are several ways of getting a permanent residency status in the U.S. which can eventually make you eligible for a U.S. Citizenship.  

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A Green Card holder has most of the rights and benefits that a US citizen has—s/he can work, do business, pay taxes, travel, buy properties and do many more things. There are several ways people can obtain Permanent Residency:

*Through employment (EB1-3); 

*Through Investment (EB-5); 

*Through help extended by U.S.-based family members (F1-F4);

*Through self-petition and so on.   

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Each of the categories has certain requirements and the individual has to show why that particular category will apply to him/her. One person can be eligible for a Green Card under multiple categories, and she/he can apply under multiple or one category. 

Decoding the Green Card procedures

It will certainly help to read about the general requirements and procedures before you apply for a Green Card. Most of the green card holders in the U.S. get their status by Employment (EB1-3), investment (EB-5), U.S. family members (F1-F4), and by self-petitioning.

Green Card procedures
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Currently, the fastest and most reliable way to get ahead is via an investment (EB-5) visa. The investment should be a minimum of 800,000 USD. In exchange for the investment, the applicants will receive a permanent residency card along with their spouse and children under 21 years of age. Investments can be made directly or through a regionally approved center. If you choose to invest directly in big cities, the investment amount can be I,050,000 USD. 

I strongly recommend you consult with experienced professionals who can guide you through the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) requirements and procedures. As I mentioned earlier, employees with H1-B visas can also apply for a green card. Even if you are currently living in India, your future employer can file a Green Card for you under the EB category. Additionally, your company can apply for your permanent residency status if you are a multinational executive or manager. This has a shorter waiting time than the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. 

Patience, preparation and diligence are necessary for success in any field and especially if you are a student or an entrepreneur hoping to explore the treasure trove of opportunities that the U.S. offers. Be sure to know the information fully before spending your time and money and make sure that you have the right professionals to help, guide and represent you.

About the author: Dilli Bhatta is the lead attorney at Applyusavisa.com. All views/opinions expressed in the article are of the author. 

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