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

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

“Your questions are vital for disseminating knowledge that enables people around the world to cross borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie alcorne, a lawyer specializing in immigration from Silicon Valley. “Whether you are in human operations, founding or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.

Extra Crunch members have access to the weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use the promotional code ALCORN to purchase a one or two year subscription at 50% off.

Dear Sophie,

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

Although I greatly appreciate my business sponsorship and have been successful in the H-1B lottery and working, I am stuck in a rut. I really want to start something for myself and work on my own terms in the US.

Are there any immigration options that would allow me to do this?

– In search of satisfaction near Stanford

Researcher Researcher,

Some exciting updates on immigration news to get us started today! In latest news from the founder of the startup, United States Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced 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, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ran a second H-1B lottery because it did not receive enough H-1B petitions to meet the annual cap. So if you or your employer has been selected, be sure to file an H-1B application by November 3.

While dissatisfaction and frustration while working on an H-1B can be normal, according to Edouard Gorbis, there is a lot you can do to take control of your immigration situation in the United States and get out on your own. I interviewed Gorbis for my podcast; he is the founder of Career meets the world and a performance coach who works with immigrants and first generation professionals to help them thrive and prosper in their careers and lives. Gorbis said that “once immigrants achieve stability, they start to think, ‘Who am I, what do I like, what is my core identity? »» It is possible for each of us to retrain our brains to be successful.

Gorbis said imagining overcoming the barriers that stand in the way of doing the job that will be right for 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 International entrepreneur Parole (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 an option to extend for 2.5 years. Your spouse can get a work permit.

How to qualify? You must own at least 10% of a U.S. corporation, such as a Delaware C corporation registered in California. Ideally, you’ll 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 quickly and create jobs. in the USA.

A start-up visa and a path to a green card may soon be on the way for entrepreneurs and their essential employees: Last week, Lofgren presented the Let immigrants initiate the employment law (LIKE). The requirements for the proposed startup visa are the same as for the IEP, but would allow for a longer stay – up to eight years in total if the startup creates jobs and generates substantial income.

I am very proud helping to draft the LIKE law. It is a pleasure to see how my suggestions have been included, such as not having green starter cards submitted to visa bulletin, clarifying that you can apply for consecutive starter visas from different companies, how assign employee visas to startups, ensure startup visa is dual-purpose status, and add premium processing. It was such a joy to be able to bring ideas to this incredible process. I look forward to supporting this bill so that it becomes law; Do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to support this noble cause.

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

Do you see yourself in another company

There is technically no limit to the number H-1B employers you may have or how many – or a few – hours you work in an H-1B position. So, think of other businesses.

One option would be to have simultaneous H-1Bs: keep your current H-1B job for more stability and start your own business, preferably with another person or two, and have your startup sponsor you for an H- 1B. Take a look at this Dear Sophie column to find out what to do before you embark on this path.

Another option would be to transfer your H-1B to another employer, or to your own startup if you are going to work there. Since you have already gone through the H-1B lottery with your current employer, you will not have to start 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 complicated, so I suggest you work with both a corporate lawyer and an immigration lawyer. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to work for your startup until an H-1B with your startup has been approved, which is why having co-founders is helpful. Another reason is that H-1Bs require an employer-employee relationship between a startup and the H-1B candidate. This means that a co-founder – or the board of directors of the startup – must supervise you and have the option of firing you. Additionally, we often advise founders that it may be best to hold less than 50% of the startup’s capital when applying for an H-1B.

Consider a green card

If you end up suing concurrent H-1Bs, consider asking your employer if they’re willing to sponsor you for a green card. If not, your startup can sponsor you one, or you can self-petition for a green card:

All EB-2 green cards – except the NIW EB-2 – and the EB-3 green card require labor certification approval (PERMED) of the US Department of Labor. The two green cards that allow an individual to self-sponsor are the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW.

Imagine doing concerts in your field

Many startup founders qualify for a O-1A extraordinary capacity visa. However, you cannot have both an H-1B and a O-1A at the same time, so if your startup sponsors you for an O-1A, you will need to quit 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 petitioner company or on multiple gigs through an agent. However, qualifying for an O-1A is more difficult than an H-1B. There are resources like my business that help people qualify. The only similarity to the H-1B is that you have to show your startup and have an employer-employee relationship.

Invest in your own business

the Visa E-2 for investors and employees of treaties is ideal for founders of startups whose home country has a trade and navigation treaty with the United States Here is a list of signatory countries. For more details on E-2 visas for founders and employees, see this precedent Dear Sophie column and podcast episode.

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

An immigration lawyer can offer you additional options depending on your personal situation and legal advice tailored to your needs.

Take advantage of the trip to build your dreams!


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

The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on “Chère Sophie” limits, please see our full disclaimer. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn Immigration Act.

Sophie’s podcast, Immigration law for tech startups, is available on all major platforms. If you want to be invited, she accepts applications!

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