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The idea of the American dream may have changed since historian James Truslow Adams popularized the term in his 1931 book “Epic of America.” However, for many people, the American dream has, and always will, involve owning and running their own business.

Entrepreneur Pathways, a new program started by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, was set up to allow professionals from other countries to bring their considerable skills to the United States. Though the program is new, many people believe it’s a stepping stone that the United States can use to regain its economic power and status as the leader of the free world.

Visa Help

The Entrepreneur Pathways program was set up partially to help qualified immigrants come to the United States. Through the program, certain people will be allowed to come to the United States to start their business, receive training, or find work in certain fields that rely on highly skilled workers.

B-1 Visas

A B-1 visa is a type of visa that can be granted to immigrants coming to the United States with the intent of starting a new business. Applying for a B-1 visa through the Entrepreneur Pathways program will allow immigrants to come to the United States to look for office space, secure funding for their business, or attend business meetings in the country.

Obtaining a B-1 visa is ideal for many people looking to come to the United States since they can be granted quickly, and allow the people that have them to work freely and efficiently in the country. A standard B-1 visa lasts for a period of six months, though extensions may be granted by the federal government in certain cases.

F-1 OPT Visas

F-1 OPT visas are for people coming to the United States to receive practical training in a certain field. Many of the people who are granted F-1 OPT visas intend to receive training that they need with and end goal of starting a new business in the United States.

While F-1 OPT visas are often given to students, they will not be granted to students that do not speak the English language. As of January 2013, even students seeking training in a specialized field and English language programs are ineligible for an F-1 OPT visa.

F-1 student visas typically expire after 12 months. Once the person’s study has been completed, they may be eligible for an additional 12-month F-1 visa extension in order to establish a business in the United States.

F-1 students that already have a degree in science, technology, mathematics or engineering seeking a secondary degree in the United States can get a 17-month F-1 visa. In some cases, extensions will be granted for an additional period of time for students seeking secondary degrees if they cannot be completed within the first 17 months.

Other Visa Types

International Professionals

Immigrants that do not qualify for B-1 or F-1 OPT visas may still be able to come to the United States under the Entrepreneur Pathways program.

• People that work in certain fields like engineering or science may be eligible for an H-1B visa. H-1B visas expire after three years, but an additional three year extension may be granted.

• O-1A visas are sometimes granted to individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in the field of science, art, mathematics or engineering, as well as some other specialized fields. Individuals that receive an O-1A visa are allowed to stay in the United States for three years. O-1A visa recipients are eligible for one-year extensions in some cases.

• Individuals that have invested a substantial amount of money in a qualified company may be able to obtain an E-2 visa in order to oversee their investment. E-2 visas are granted for two years, and may be renewed indefinitely in two-year increments if the extension is approved by the federal government.

• People coming to the United States as an employee of a qualified organization may be given an L-1 visa. L-1 visas are granted for up to three years. Extensions are granted for a maximum of seven total years in some cases.

Is the Entrepreneur Pathways Program Good for the United States?

The United States has a long history of allowing skilled immigrants to come to the United States to work. Many believe that this is what has allowed the United States to be among the most innovative and influential countries in the world.

Others claim that more an influx of skilled workers will result in fewer jobs for American citizens however, history has shown us that skilled workers actually help to create new jobs and boost the economy.

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