How can I submit a strong O-1A or EB-1A application? – 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. “

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Dear Sophie,

A few years ago, I moved my startup headquarters to New York from Estonia on an E-2 investor visa.

I have hired a few investors since then, but if I take more, I run the risk of not qualifying for an E-2 because my capital is thinning. I am considering being sponsored by my startup for an O-1A visa or applying for an EB-1A green card.

Any tips or ideas on how to make a strong case for an O-1A or EB-1A? Thanks!

– Founder of a smart startup

Dear Savvy,

Congratulations on your success so far! Yes, we have many best practices to present to apply for an O-1A Extraordinary Ability Visa or EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Green Card.

Nadia More, associate attorney at Alcorn Immigration Law and expert in immigration legal services for startups and creatives, and recently did a podcast review what to keep in mind when requesting a O-1A visa, EB-1A Green Card or EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) green card. I listened! I would also recommend that you consult an experienced immigration attorney who can help you determine the best approach based on your time and goals.

Please note that if you are seeking an O-1A visa, you will need to show that you are inception and that you have an employer-employee relationship, or you will need an agent to apply on your behalf. If you demonstrate an employer-employee relationship, it usually involves showing that your startup’s board of directors oversees your work and can fire you.

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)

You may also want to consider requesting Word of international entrepreneur (IEP). My firm has submitted several IEP petitions on behalf of clients. In our experience, it takes less time to prepare an IEP petition than an O-1A petition because it does not require as many documents. Also, if you are married and granted IEP status, your spouse will be eligible to apply for a work permit. The spouse of an O-1A visa holder is not eligible for a work permit.

Going back to answering your question, here are some of the best practices for applying for an O-1A or EB-1A:

Field experience

Take some time to focus on your area of ​​expertise. Because both the O-1A and EB-1A are for people of extraordinary ability or achievement who are at the top of their field, the more defined your field of expertise, the easier it will be to show that you are at the top. her. For example, instead of listing tech entrepreneurship as your area of ​​expertise, couple it to something like entrepreneurship focused on developing machine learning software for the healthcare industry. Work with an experienced immigration attorney to design your field for the petition.

Qualification criteria

Familiarize yourself with the qualification criteria for the O-1A and EB-1A, which are similar and determine which of your skills and accomplishments best meet the criteria. As a startup founder, the critical and critical role you play in your startup should be easy to demonstrate. Remember, this is not the time to be humble.

Under your leadership, how much money has your startup raised? Have you received important awards? What is your startup’s annual recurring revenue and how many jobs have you created in the US? Were you invited to judge a pitching competition, speak on a panel, or mentor others based on your background, experience, or skill set? Were you invited to become a member of an exclusive organization that has a rigorous selection process? Are you an intellectual leader in your field?

You will need to collect letters of recommendation, more on them in a moment, and documentary evidence to demonstrate your achievements, such as a scan or photo of an award, email correspondence, copies or screenshots of articles written about or by you, or screenshots of the agenda of a conference or presentation on YouTube that generated a significant number of visits. You should know that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not consider awards or awards given at the university level to be important achievements. Some investments through contests may qualify as prizes and some investments may not.

Recommendation letters

We generally recommend obtaining five to eight letters from experts in your field who can discuss your skills and accomplishments and the importance of their impact in your field or beyond. Generally, the more details and examples provided in the recommendation letter, discussed in easy-to-understand terms, the more compelling the letter will be. You should be aware that the immigration officer who is evaluating your case is probably not an expert in their field.

It is often valuable to send letters from a variety of people, such as those who have worked directly with you and those who only know you based on your work within your field, academic and professional experts, and individuals both within and outside of the United States. . State.

Be sure to ask potential recommenders if they are willing to send a letter to USCIS on your behalf. While most recommenders are people with time constraints who prefer that you write a draft letter that they can edit, some recommenders prefer to write their own letters, which is good to know up front. Make sure the people doing it are willing to edit and make changes to the drafts, such as removing jargon or adding more details.

The process of finalizing letters of recommendation and getting them signed along with gathering documentary evidence for a case often takes longer than most people anticipate. With that said, get started!

All the best in the next phase of your startup growth!


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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