For many decades, Florida has beckoned entrepreneurs from all over the world. The state boasts a strategic location ideal for international trade, a diverse and skilled workforce, and a business-friendly environment that entrepreneurs find hard to resist.
According to research from the American Immigration Council, over 400,000 immigrant business owners accounted for 33 percent of all self-employed Florida residents in 2018. It also noted that more than half of business owners in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach metro area are owned by immigrants. If you’re eyeing the Sunshine State for your next business venture, it’s essential that you obtain a business visa. Here’s how you can start navigating the details of the business visa application process in Florida.
Types of Business Visas For Which You Can Apply
The B-1 or B-2 Short-Term Visa. B-1 and B-2 visas—which are short-term business and tourist visas, respectively—are means by which you can start a business in the US. These temporary visas let you negotiate with potential business partners, but they don’t allow you to sign contracts or perform work for hire while in the US. Currently, the government filing fee for a B visa is $185, which does not include the cost of gathering documents and evidence and acquiring passport photos.
The E-1 and E-2 Treaty Visa. If you want to start a business that will trade with your home country, the E-1 treaty trader visa may be a viable option. To be eligible for this visa, you must be a citizen of a country that has an appropriate treaty with the US. The E-1 visa is temporary and can be renewed as long as your business is still operating.
The E-2 treaty investor visa enables you to start a business in the US as an investor. As with the E-1 visa, you must be a citizen of a treaty country to be eligible. This visa is also temporary and can be renewed as long as your business stays in operation.
The EB-5 Investor Green Card. If you can afford to make a significant investment in a US business, the EB-5 Investor Green Card program may be an option. This program requires you to invest between $500,000 to $1 million and create at least 10 jobs for US residents within two years. If you successfully complete this program, you can become a permanent resident in the US.
Process for Getting a B Visa
Aside from paying a fee, the process for obtaining a B1 or B2 Visa in Florida are straightforward. If you need help, it will pay off to get assistance from an experienced immigration attorney.
- Complete the Online Non-Immigrant Application, Form DS-160. File the form online and print the confirmation page as you will need it for your interview.
- Upload a digital photo of yourself that meets government requirements.
- Attend the visa interview with required documentation, including proof of previous trips to the US (if applicable); proof of funds to cover the entire cost of your trip; and proof of binding ties to your home country, such as a job, property, or family
Strategies for Applying for an E-1 or E-2 Visa, or an EB-5 Green Card
Craft a Robust Business Plan
The heart of your visa application lies in your business plan. A compelling plan should start with an executive summary that briefly describes your business, its objectives, and its potential growth in Florida. Dive deeply into analyzing your market, identifying who your target audience is, and showing how well you understand their needs. This will help you position your business effectively and show your acumen. Your operational strategy should detail your day-to-day operations, from suppliers to staffing. Most importantly, financial projections are crucial. A detailed financial forecast for the next 3-5 years can showcase how profitable and sustainable your venture can be in Florida.
Show How Viable Your Business Venture Is
To convince the authorities, you need to prove that your business is not just a concept on paper but a viable venture. If you’ve run a similar business elsewhere, you should highlight its achievements. Concrete data from market research can be a game-changer, especially if it shows a clear demand for your product or service in Florida. Also, if you’ve managed to secure partnerships with local businesses, it can significantly bolster your application.
Meet the Eligibility Criteria and Navigate the Legal Landscape
Eligibility is more than just ticking boxes on a form. You must genuinely show your intent to run a business in Florida. Financial stability is key to your business case. This means you should present bank statements, assets, and other financial documents that paint a picture of a stable business. Additionally, it’s imperative that you maintain a clean background—any criminal records or past visa violations can be detrimental to your application.
Although the legal landscape of business visa application can be daunting, you can maneuver through it seamlessly with the right approach—which includes hiring an immigration attorney. Their expertise can be invaluable in guiding you through the business visa processes in Florida. It will also help you to stay updated on immigration laws, which are subject to change. Regularly checking for updates ensures you’re always compliant. Lastly, be prepared for interviews—they provide perfect opportunities to personally convey your passion and intent for your business.
How an Immigration Lawyer Can Help
Your immigration attorney can play a critical role in navigating your business visa process. They offer:
- Guidance and Evaluation: Your attorney can evaluate your English proficiency and suggest strategies that fit your situation. They can also direct you to language resources that match your proficiency and learning preferences.
- Document Preparation and Review: Your attorney can assist in preparing and examining your application documents for accuracy and completeness, which strengthens your case during the process.
- Representation and Advocacy: If you face significant language barriers, your attorney can represent and advocate for you, help you work through your specific challenges, and present a persuasive case to the relevant authorities.
Contact a Florida Immigration Attorney
Do you have questions about obtaining a business visa in Florida? Then contact Florida Immigration Law Counsel through our website or by calling 1-800-666-4996. We deal with the government so you don’t have to. We look forward to helping you at this time.