I'm an Indian citizen residing in India. Right now I don't have any US visa. I've worked with a US citizen(residing in US) to develop a software product. Now we are in a position to establish the company in the US. My partner is offering 20% equity in the US company. This is sweat equity since I'm not actually investing money into the company. My contribution is in product development.

My question is:

1. Which visa is required to get such a ownership in the US company?

2. What is the best option for me to secure the green card?


Answers to the comments: The 20% ownership is a reward for the work I do. If required I'll be travelling to US to have the agreements signed.

  • 7
    You don’t require a visa to own any shared in a US company. A visa is required to come to the US, not to own part of a US company.
    – jcaron
    Feb 1 '20 at 21:52
  • Are you actually travelling to the US to do work in establishing this company? Also do you already own equity in the company or will this equity be a reward for the work you do? Feb 2 '20 at 4:22
  1. Which visa is required to get such a ownership in the US company?

You don’t need a visa to have equity in a USA company. You don’t even need to live in the USA (although FinCom rules make it hard but not impossible for non-USA residents to buy stocks in publicly traded stocks)

  1. What is the best option for me to secure the green card?

You would likely go for an investment visa. However, I assume your company is still very very small (less than five partners given your equity). It’s hard to prove valuation of such a startup. Otherwise you could just declare MyLittleLLC LLC to have a valuation of $20 trillion. So proving that your company is worth enough for an investment visa is non-trivial, you have to convert your equity to cash in a relatively arms length transaction.

So... do a Series A round of raising venture capital. Use that to sell all or part of your equity for $1 million or negotiate a $1 million payout.

Then take that $1 million, deduct some overhead for transaction costs, and invest in another company for an EB-5 visa, most likely through a regional center.

  • 1
    @MattDouhan this answer appears to be answering the second part of the question, which is about the best way to get a green card.
    – phoog
    Feb 2 '20 at 5:12
  • This is not needed just to own shares but is a way to visa and green card Feb 2 '20 at 5:13
  • @MattDouhan that's a better comment :-) One of these answers ought to point out that there's no need for a US visa for a foreigner to earn equity in a US company by doing work while outside the US. So far, that information is only to be found in comments.
    – phoog
    Feb 2 '20 at 21:23

It would be much easier if you kept product development in India, hiring locally, at least initially. There are two chances for getting a US visa and ultimately green card:

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