What immigration options allow me to launch my own startup? – TechCrunch

Here’s another issue of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.

“Your questions are vital to spreading the knowledge that enables people around the world to overcome borders and pursue their dreams,” he says. Sophie alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you work in personnel operations, are a founder, or are looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column. “

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one or two year subscription with a 50% discount.

Dear Sophie,

I have been working on an H-1B in the US for almost two years.

While I am immensely grateful for my company sponsorship and for being through the H-1B lottery and working, I am stuck in a rut. I really want to start something of my own and work on my own terms in the United States.

Is there an immigration option that allows me to do that?

– Seeking satisfaction near Stanford

Dear Looking,

A couple of exciting immigration news updates to start today! In breaking news about a startup founder, US Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) presented the LIKE Act for startup founders in the House of Representatives last week. Below, we’ll share what this could mean for your startup aspirations. Additionally, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted a second H-1B lottery because it did not receive enough H-1B applications to meet the annual limit. So if you or your employer were selected, be sure to file an H-1B petition by November 3.

Although job dissatisfaction and frustration in an H-1B may be normal, depending on Edward gorbis, there is a lot you can do to take control of your immigration status in the United States and go out on your own. I interviewed Gorbis to my podcast; he is the founder of The race meets the world and a performance coach who works with immigrants and first-generation professionals to help them find fulfillment and prosper in their careers and life. Gorbis said that “once immigrants reach stability, they start to think, ‘Who am I, what do I value, what is my core identity?’” It is possible for any of us to retrain our brains for success.

Gorbis said imagining overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of doing work that will satisfy you is the first step. So here are some options that can help you imagine how to build the life of your dreams.

Become a founding CEO and raise $ 250,000

A great new option for aspiring entrepreneurs is Word of international entrepreneur (IEP), a new US immigration program that allows CEOs, CTOs, and others to live in the US and run their business for 2.5 years with the option of a 2.5-year extension. Your spouse can get a work permit.

How to qualify? You must own at least 10% of a US business, such as a California-registered Delaware C corporation. Ideally, you want to show that your business bank account has at least $ 250,000 raised from qualified US investors, but you can use other evidence to show that your business has the potential to grow rapidly and create jobs in the US.

A start-up visa and the path to a green card may soon be on the way for entrepreneurs and their crucial employees: Last week, Lofgren introduced the Letting Immigrants Start Jobs (LIKE). The requirements for the proposed start-up visa are the same as for the IEP, but would allow for a longer stay, up to eight years total if the start-up creates jobs and generates substantial income.

am very proud have collaborated in the drafting of the LIKE Law. It is exciting to see how my suggestions were included, such as making Startup Green Cards not subject to visa bulletin, clarifying that you can search for consecutive Startup Visas from different companies, how to assign employee visas to startups, ensure Startup Visa is one dual-intention status and adding premium processing. It was a pleasure to be able to contribute ideas to this amazing process. I hope to support this bill to become law; Contact me if you want to support this worthy cause.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background featuring a TechCrunch logo.

Image credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie alcorn (Opens in a new window)

See yourself in another company

Technically, there is no limit to the quantity H-1B employers who may have or how many, or few, hours you work in an H-1B position. So think of other companies.

One option would be to have concurrent H-1Bs – keep your current H-1B job for stability and start your own company, preferably with another person or two, and have your startup sponsor you for an H-1B. watch this Dear Sophie Column to know what to do before embarking on this path.

Another option would be transfer your H-1B to another employer, or your own startup if you are going to work there. Since you have already been through the H-1B lottery with your current employer, you will not have to go through the lottery process again for a second H-1B, whether you choose the concurrent or transfer option.

Setting up a startup that can sponsor you for an H-1B is tricky, which is why I suggest you work with both a corporate attorney and an immigration attorney. Note that you won’t be able to do any work for your startup until an H-1B has been approved with your startup, so having co-founders is helpful. Another reason is that H-1Bs require an employer-employee relationship between a startup and the H-1B candidate. That means a co-founder, or the startup’s board, needs to oversee you and have the ability to fire you. Also, we often advise founders that it may be better to own less than 50% stake in the startup when applying for an H-1B.

Consider a green card

If you end up looking for concurrent H-1Bs, consider asking your employer if they are willing to sponsor you for a green card. If that’s not the case, your startup can sponsor you for one, or you can self-apply for a green card:

All EB-2 green cards, except the EB-2 NIW, and the EB-3 green card require labor certification approval (PERMANENT) from the US Department of Labor The two green cards that allow a person to self-sponsor are NIW EB-1A and EB-2.

Imagine doing gigs in your field

Many startup founders qualify for a O-1A extraordinary ability visa. However, you cannot have both an H-1B and a O-1A at the same time, if your startup sponsors you for an O-1A, you will be required to leave your current H-1B job once an O-1A is approved.

An O-1A offers more flexibility than an H-1B. You can work for a single applicant company or in multiple jobs through an agent. However, qualifying for an O-1A is more difficult than an H-1B. Resources, such as through my company, help people qualify. The only similarity to the H-1B is that you must show your start and have an employer-employee relationship.

Invest in your own business

The E-2 Visa for treaty investors and employees is ideal for startup founders whose home country has a trade and navigation treaty with the US Here is a list of treaty countries. For more details on E-2 visas for founders and employees, see this previous article. Dear Sophie Column Y podcast episode.

Although there is no minimum dollar amount that a founder must invest in a startup to qualify for an E-2, we often recommend that founders invest at least $ 100,000 to have a strong case. You cannot have both an H-1B and an E-2, so you will need to quit your current H-1B job if your E-2 is approved.

An immigration attorney can offer additional options based on your personal circumstances and personalized legal advice for you.

Enjoy the journey of building your dreams!


Do you have a question for Sophie? Ask here. We reserve the right to edit your submission for clarity and / or space.

The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on the limitations of “Dear Sophie”, see our full disclaimer. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn immigration law.

Sophie’s podcast, Immigration Law for Tech Startups, is available on all major platforms. If you want to be a guest, you are accepting applications!


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