Summary of the immigration process and possible visa options for living and working in the US

Generally, how do companies proceed through the U.S. immigration system to establish a new business entity in Pennsylvania?

There are usually several stages that a company’s personnel proceed through in establishing a new company in the U.S. During the exploratory/information gathering phase of the process, company officials can enter the U.S. on either a Visitor Visa (B-1 visa) or through the visa waiver program if they are from a country from which the U.S. does not require a visa. Once an overseas investor or company decides to establish a business in the U.S., it should then apply for non-immigrant work visas for their management team and skilled personnel that they will send to the U.S. These are described in more depth below. These non-immigrant visas permit your employees to work and be paid in the U.S., using work visas that range in duration from 1 to 7 years. As a company’s presence in the U.S. matures and it decides that it wants to keep its personnel in the U.S. permanently, companies apply to change their employee’s immigration status from a visa basis to obtaining Legal Permanent Residency (LPR or “green card” status). The green card process is described in more detail below.

What are the most common types of visas used by foreign companies, when setting up their first United States subsidiaries?
I have decided to set up a subsidiary in Pennsylvania. As a senior manager of my company, may I come to Pennsylvania on a regular basis to set up my business and take care of initial formalities?
If I set up my business in Pennsylvania can I bring over some of my key managerial and technical personnel to operate the U.S. subsidiary for 2 or 3 years?
If I come to the U.S. to direct my company’s U.S. subsidiary, can my spouse and children work in the U.S. as well?
Can I do all the paperwork for the visa applications myself or is it better to work with a specialized immigration lawyer?
How long does it typically take to obtain an L-1 or H-1B visa?
How much does it typically cost to obtain a visa (including both legal fees and USCIS fees)?
Under what circumstances may parties apply for a treaty trader/investor’s visa (E-1 or E-2)? How much funds must a firm invest in the U.S. to be eligible for these types of visas?
What is a “green card” and should I obtain one for my employees in the U.S.?
How do I find a good immigration lawyer in Pennsylvania?
Is there a route to legal permanent residency (green card status) by direct investment in Pennsylvania?
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