Expensive Sophie: What are the visa choices for worldwide founders?

Right here’s one other version of “Expensive Sophie,” the recommendation column that solutions immigration-related questions on working at expertise firms.

“Your questions are very important to the unfold of information that enables folks all around the world to rise above borders and pursue their desires,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration lawyer. “Whether or not you’re in folks ops, a founder or searching for a job in Silicon Valley, I might like to answer your questions in my subsequent column.”

TechCrunch+ members obtain entry to weekly “Expensive Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Expensive Sophie,

I began a startup in Pakistan with a few co-founders a couple of years in the past. One of many co-founders and I wish to transfer to america to entry the market.

What are our visa choices? Thanks upfront on your assist!

— Purposeful in Pakistan

Expensive Purposeful,

Congrats on making the choice to develop your small business in america!

Earlier than I dive into the visa choices, I wish to be aware that it’s essential to arrange your organization in order that it may well efficiently sponsor you and your co-founder, and different hires for visas and inexperienced playing cards whereas additionally attracting traders. I like to recommend you seek the advice of an immigration lawyer and a company lawyer for help.

As well as, many firms assist founders each in america or overseas incorporate their enterprise within the U.S., open a enterprise checking account there, and coordinate dealing with authorized paperwork and different duties.

Your and your co-founder’s visa choices will largely rely upon:

  • The possession construction of your U.S. enterprise.
  • How a lot might be invested to determine your U.S. enterprise.
  • Your skills and expertise.
  • The success you and your organization have achieved or are anticipated to realize.
  • Who wants to come back to the U.S. and what actions they might want to do whereas within the nation.
  • Your timeframe.
  • Your ongoing worldwide journey wants.

Furthermore, there are a few issues to remember:

  • All work visas, which permit you and your co-founder to reside and work briefly in america, would require your startup or an agent to petition for you and your co-founder.
  • Some work visas would require your startup to show that you just and your co-founder are like some other worker at your startup, that means that you’re supervised by somebody who additionally has the power to fireside you and your co-founder, and neither you nor your co-founder owns a controlling stake within the startup. This is called an employer-employee relationship.
  • You might be ready a number of months earlier than you will get to america. Whereas the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the Consulate Basic in Karachi have resumed processing work visas and have the authority to waive visa interviews, they will solely waive interviews if the visa candidate has beforehand utilized for a visa. At present, the wait time to get an interview is a number of months. (There are some consulates that also have multiyear wait instances.)

Listed here are the work visas that my agency most frequently considers for startup founders:

O-1 visa

The O-1A extraordinary capacity visa is geared toward people who’ve achieved nationwide or worldwide acclaim and are on the prime of their area.

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

Picture Credit: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

To qualify for an O-1A visa, your startup have to be established in america and should show that an employer-employee relationship exists between you and the startup, or you will need to establish an alternate agent for sponsorship functions. A person should meet three out of eight standards, a few of which embrace:

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