This is the second in a series I’m writing to showcase some of the Alcorn Immigration Law team’s client success stories.* To maintain confidentiality, the client’s name has been changed. And some details of the case may have been omitted or slightly altered.
Is it possible to create a startup that can sponsor my H-1B visa? Marc posed that question to the Alcorn Immigration Law team when he came to our office for a consultation.
Our short answer was yes, startup founders can get H-1B visas from their companies. But careful planning—and timing—are crucial to make that happen without jeopardizing the ability to legally remain in the U.S.
Determining a Path
Marc studied finance and accounting and earned his bachelor’s degree at a U.S. university a few years ago. After graduation, he secured a job as a data analyst with a tech company, who sponsored him for an H-1B visa. After changing jobs—and H-1B sponsors—twice, Marc decided to do something that would potentially have a bigger impact and more meaning for him: He wanted to pursue a startup idea with a couple of friends.
When Marc met with us, he was a few weeks into the 60-day grace period under his H-1B visa. A regulation that went into effect last year gives up to a 60-day grace period for certain visas after employment ends. In addition to H-1B visa holders, E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B1, L-1A, L-1B, O-1A, O-1B, and TN (Canadian and Mexican) visa holders and their dependents are eligible for the grace period to file for an extension or a different visa or return to their home country.
Marc was frustrated because he didn’t have the authorization to work at his startup. For starters, we referred Marc and his co-founders to a trusted business lawyer we often work with to help them structure the company and board to meet the requirements necessary to sponsor an H-1B visa for Marc.
The business lawyer advised them to form a limited liability company, one of two corporate structures that best suits sponsoring founders for H-1B visas. In addition, we guided Marc and the startup about funding sources, revenue and income projections, and other information and corroborating evidence needed for successfully petitioning for an H-1B visa.
The Alcorn Method
For each of our clients, we craft a strategy specifically tailored our client’s goals, immigration history, and startup aspirations.
We filed an H-1B petition within four weeks of our first meeting with Marc. Transferring from one H-1B sponsor to another meant Marc and his startup avoided the highly-competitive annual H-1B lottery. Still, we filed the petition with premium processing, which significantly reduces the time U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes to determine whether an individual is eligible for the visa. For a $1,225 fee, USCIS decides within 15 calendar days. Otherwise, USCIS may take six to eight months—and possibly longer—to make a determination.
Before USCIS made its determination on Marc’s petition, he made an unplanned trip outside the U.S. to meet with potential investors. Knowing the risks, we counseled Marc on his legal rights, and what to expect upon his return to the U.S.
We rarely receive requests from USCIS for additional information—known as a Request for Evidence (RFE)—which can slow the approval process. However, we did for Marc’s H-1B petition. USCIS asked for additional information about Marc’s previous job. We alerted Marc’s previous employer, and quickly provided the requested information to USCIS.
USCIS approved Marc’s H-1B less than two weeks later. Now, Marc works for his startup, using his finance and data analytics skills. His startup is now getting traction and just entered an accelerator program. Marc maintains an ownership interest in the startup and a legal employer-employee relationship.
What’s more, as his company’s success grows, Marc will have more options to remain in the U.S., including applying for an EB-2 green card with a National Interest Waiver or an EB-1A green card for extraordinary ability.
We feel honored that Marc trusted us to guide him through the processing of getting an H-1B from his startup.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team supports immigration for innovation by assisting highly-motivated investors, founders, talent, and families obtain visas, green cards, and citizenship. Contact us if we can help you, an employee or a loved one either inside or outside of the U.S.
* Our success in any case does not predict nor guarantee the outcome in your legal matter.