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Can registering a business in the USA get me a residence permit, or do I have to apply for an H1B visa instead?

  • You can't apply for an H-1b for yourself. A company in the USA has to sponsor you and apply on your behalf and employ you. – brhans May 1 '18 at 13:03
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    You can't qualify for legal residence simply by creating a corporation or other legal entity. If it were possible, most of the people who are now in the US without authorization would have done it. – phoog May 1 '18 at 14:32
  • @phoog the eb5 more or less does allow you to get a green card by setting up a qualifying corporation. Unauthorized migrants in the USA mostly won't have enough money to use this option. (I'm sure you know this, I just mention it for completeness). – user16259 May 1 '18 at 19:55
  • @user16259 thanks for pointing that out. I did have that in mind when writing "simply by creating...," but it was not at all clear. I was more thinking of (for example) day laborers, who, if they could gain legal status by incorporating construction businesses, would doubtless have very different lives. – phoog May 1 '18 at 20:25
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The USA has some investor visa options so you don't have to go the H1B route. You will need substantial amounts of money to invest. (And other conditions apply, including you must employ a number of local staff. See Patricia's comment below)

https://www.uscis.gov/eb-5

There is also an E2 visa but it is more limited in what you can use it for and who can qualify.

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    It's not just money to invest. The business has to create jobs for US workers - it can't just be a one person business. – Patricia Shanahan May 1 '18 at 16:18

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