Opening an Office in the United States

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We helped an offshore chip fab realize a competitive advantage by opening a Silicon Valley cleanroom to produce immediately available test chips and close deals their competitors can't.

Do you make a product or offer a service abroad that you sell, or would like to sell in the United States?  Would you like to move some of your offshore production into the United States to take advantage of lower tarriffs and just-in-time production closer to your market?

We can help you establish a US legal entity, obtain a federal employer tax ID number, lease commercial office space, open a corporate US bank account and move executives, managers and employees with special knowledge of your product or service to the United States.  We use a document filing service in Sacramento, California to file your California legal entity papers same day.  We help you draft a business plan and get your US entity from idea to staffed operation usually within four to six weeks.

Two Immigration Categories to Consider

Foreign investors and corporations seeking to move production and staff to the United States have two major immigration options: (1) the L-1 multinational manager/executive/specialized knowledge program, and (2) the treaty investor program.  Each category has benefits and drawbacks depending on the type of business, its payroll, the location of its foreign operations and the nationality of its investors.

Factor to Consider L-1 E-2

Employees must work one year abroad before transfer to United States


Foreign entity must own, or control a majority of the US and foreign entity Yes No
The foreign investor, or corporation must be a national of specific treaty countries No Yes
Employees you seek to transfer to the United States must be nationals of the same country as the foreign investor or corporation No Yes
You must pay the employee a certain minimum salary No No
Must file petition with USCIS before consular processing Yes No
Premium processing is available Yes Yes
There is a maximum stay in this temporary status


Employee shareholders owning more than ~3% of the company may pursue US residence Yes No
For "New Office" in US, period of admission limited to one year instead of three* Yes No

The L-1A category allows an investor to create a new business in the United States.  Although most L-1A visas are issued to managers or executives traveling to the United States to manage or direct the activities of existing US offices, L-1A visas support managers traveling to the United States to open a new office or offices.  All L-1 category requirements apply and interested visitors may learn more about L category visas by clicking here.  The most important requirement is that the manager or executive to be transferred has worked abroad for at least one year during the past three for the foreign parent company and that the foreign parent continues to do business abroad for the entire period that the L-1A manager or executive is in the United States.

Companies abroad unable to transfer an executive or manager to the United States who meets the L-1 category requirements may turn to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.  That visa requires, among other things, that the treaty investor is a national of a specific treaty country and that she invest a "substantial sum" in the US business to be created or managed.  Whether a sum is substantial depends on the nature of the industry and business, but amounts less than $100,000 raise a presumption that they are insubstantial.  The investor must actively manage and direct the business, must be qualified to do so and the business must be such that it will likely create jobs for persons other than the investor and his or her family.  For more information about E-2 category visas, click here.

*8 U.S.C. 214.2(l)(7)(i)(A)(3).

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Call us at 408.797.0000

Call us at 408.797.0000

Call us for a consultation at 408.797.0000. We offer expert services and proven experience with complex issues that others can overlook.

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  95 South Market St., Suite 363
    San José, CA 95113
 (408) 797-0000

  200 Washington St., Suite 208
    Santa Cruz, CA 95060
 (831) 245-0000

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