Doing Business In the United States

DOING BUSINESS IN THE USA

The Filipino enterprise or corporation has a unique advantage in doing business in the US primarily because of the substantial similarities of the government structure as well as laws of the Philippines and the US. Most laws of the Philippines are patterned after the US laws. Several examples are contract laws, securities regulation, and intellectual property laws. In a sense, legal compliance is relatively easier given the significant similarities.

With this advantage, the Filipino investor can tap the vast domestic market of the US and expect a transparent legal system as well as access to federal-level programs and services related to business investment. The US Embassy in Manila offers a wealth of resources in learning more about investing in the US as follows:

  • SelectUSA website for programs, incentives and industry snapshots
  • A dedicated US Embassy Commercial Team that can address interests and needs
  • Cluster mapping tool to learn about regional business strengths as well as case studies and toolkits in formulating business strategies.

These resources can be accessed through http://manila.usembassy.gov/doing-business-usa.html

INVESTMENT VISAS FOR FILIPINOS

E-1 Visa for Filipino Traders

The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

In order to qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Carry on substantial trade
  • Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.

Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to:

  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and its transfer
  • Some news-gathering activities.

E-2 Investor Visa for Filipinos seeking to set-up businesses in the U.S.

The E2 Investor Visa is the more common visa solution for those seeking to set-up a business in the USA. It is a nonimmigrant classification that allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Since the Philippines is a treaty country, the E2 Investor Visa is a viable option for the Filipino entrepreneur, corporation as well as for certain employees of the Filipino national or of a qualifying organization.

A treaty investor qualifies for E2 classification if he meets the following criteria:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

An investment is the treaty investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails.

A substantial amount of capital is:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

A bona fide enterprise refers to a real, active and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit. It must meet applicable legal requirements for doing business within its jurisdiction.

EB-5 Permanent Residency for Filipinos making a qualifying investment in the U.S.

INVEST IN THE USA AND GET A GREEN CARD FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

Under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

  • Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
  • Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to:

  • A sole proprietorship
  • Partnership (whether limited or general)
  • Holding company
  • Joint venture
  • Corporation
  • Business trust or other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned

This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.

Another aspect of the EB-5 Visa is the Regional Center Program, which sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

You can follow this link to check the list of the approved regional centers - http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fifth-preference-eb-5/immigrant-investor-regional-centers

LIVE YOUR AMERICAN DREAM

L-1A Work Visas for Filipino business owners, executives and managers
L1-B Work Visas for Filipino specialty workers

The Filipino managers, executives and professionals are well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities in the US given the substantial equivalency of the college/university degrees obtained in the Philippines to that of US degrees. The Philippine education system was after all fundamentally based on the American education system.

The strong English language skills of the Filipino managers, executives and professionals is another advantage that allows access to countless of opportunities in the US.

With the breadth of experience and depth of knowledge of Davies & Associates lawyers, coupled with the strong credentials of prospective Filipino applicants/beneficiaries, the likelihood of success is high. While there can never be any guarantees, none of the visa applications prepared and filed by Davies & Associates have ever been denied.

The available pathways for Filipino Managers & Executives are as follows:

L-1A: Intracompany Transferee, Executive or ManagerNon-ImmigrantThe L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.
L-1B: Intracompany Transferee Specialized KnowledgeNon-ImmigrantThe L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one.

H-1B Work Visas

Every year, there are visas available for specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Specialty occupations, include but are not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts. Again, considering the substantial equivalency of the college/university degrees obtained in the Philippines to that of US degrees, Filipinos are a step ahead in qualifying for visas for specialty occupations.

Specialist Visas for Medical Professionals

Filipino medical professionals are also at an advantage for obtaining professional licensure and immigration solutions for the US. In fact, Philippine-trained physicians and dentists comprise one of the largest group in the United States (as noted in the respective studies of the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association).

Today, the healthcare sector is one of the most critical areas of professional practice in the United States of America due to shortage of qualified professionals. You can soon be one of the Philippine-trained physicians or dentists who can address the shortage in the US. While it is one of the most regulated and complicated sectors to navigate, our Foreign Medical Professional (FMP) practice at Davies & Associates can provide highly specialized immigration and licensure solutions for you.

Our FMP Practice Team is composed of established immigration lawyers and specialist consultants that work together to ease the burdensome barriers of entry for qualified professionals seeking to enter the United States.

You can take the first step by following this link: http://www.visasfordoctors.com/

The available pathways for Filipino professionals are as follows:

Visa CategoryTypeDescription
H-1B: Specialty OccupationsNon-ImmigrantThis visa category applies to people who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.
O-1: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or AchievementNon-ImmigrantThe O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
EB-1: Priority WorkersImmigrantPersons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multinational executives and managers and their qualified derivative family members.
EB-2: Members of the ProfessionsImmigrantProfessionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts and business and their derivative family members.
EB-3: Professionals, Skilled and Unskilled WorkersImmigrantProfessionals holding baccalaureate degrees, skilled workers with at least two years of experience, and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States and their qualified derivative family members. Nurses and teachers fall under this subcategory.