As the founder, owner, or operator of a company, you have unique legal needs. You may be concerned with securing a visa to remain in the United States and continue operating your business on American soil. Perhaps, alternatively, you are looking to hire the world’s best and brightest talent and are not sure how to obtain lawful immigration status for these team members and their families to move to the United States. Regardless of the motivation for seeking legal assistance, our team of knowledgeable immigration attorneys has the skill and experience necessary to secure United States visas for entrepreneurs and their families. We work alongside startups and established companies to implement immigration solutions that help sustain, expand, and scale their operations in the United States. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting Alcorn Immigration Law today.
How We Help Businesses & Startup Entrepreneurs
A recent study from MIT reports that, per capita, immigrants in the United States are 80% more likely to found a business compared to native-born citizens. This data is indicative of a net gain in job availability and a consequential spurring of the American economy. Aside from acting as job creators in the United States, individuals who immigrate to the country to found startup companies must also navigate the labyrinthine process of obtaining a work visa for themselves, their families, and (oftentimes) their key employees. Depending on your needs, unique circumstances, and the structure of your business entity, there may be several avenues available to secure a visa to the United States, including the following.
O-1A Extraordinary Ability Startup Founder Visa
The O-1A visa is available to individuals who exhibit extraordinary ability in their field. Startup founders often pursue this visa to allow for temporary work in the United States. Through the O-1A visa, startup founders can ensure that they have the time and ability to secure venture capital and establish their company in the American economy.
There are strict eligibility requirements for the O-1A visa, but many startup founders meet the basic criteria needed to apply. You may qualify for the O-1A extraordinary ability visa if you:
- Won an award in your field or raised venture capital.
- Invented patented technology or otherwise made original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions to your field.
- Achieved national or international recognition through a major prize or award in your field.
- Received major media coverage pertaining to your work.
- Are a member of a prestigious association in your field.
- Served as a judge in a competition in your field.
- Command a higher-than-average salary compared to others in your field.
- Have written scholarly articles.
These criteria are more malleable than you may initially assume. If you can prove that you will positively contribute to the economy and have enjoyed a level of commercial success in your field, you may be able to obtain an O-1A extraordinary ability visa.
H-1B Transfers and Lottery for CEOs, CTOs, and Other Founding Team Members
The H-1B program allows employers to hire foreign workers to perform a job in a specialty occupation. For a job to be considered a specialty occupation, the following must be true:
- Requires a theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge.
- Attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree is necessary for entry into the field in the United States.
We help specialty workers and their employers navigate the H-1B visa transfer and lottery process. Alcorn immigration attorneys work diligently to ensure that all documentation is properly organized, completed, and filed according to USCIS rules and regulations. Through our services, we are able to ensure the optimal outcome for our clients.
L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa for Multinational Executives
In a highly-globalized world, it is becoming more and more common for employers to transfer foreign-based executives and managers to the United States to work at an affiliated office. The L-1 intracompany transferee visa is designed for this purpose, allowing managers, executives, and other transferees with specialized knowledge to travel and work in the United States for an initial period of three years.
At the most basic level, the person must have spent one continuous year working abroad at the sponsoring employer. Moreover, the employer to which the person is transferring may be a parent, branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or joint venture partner of the non-United States company. There are different requirements set forth for executives, managers, and persons with specialized knowledge, and your immigration attorney at Alcorn Immigration Law can help you understand which category is most appropriate based on your circumstances.
Additional Founder Visas
Every founder’s story is different and United States immigration law provides for a range of visa options to allow startup companies to take root and flourish in the country. In many cases, alternative immigration options such as the E-1 trade, E-2 investment, and E-1/2 essential employee visas may be available. These E-category visas allow the citizens of treaty countries to engage in trade or invest capital in a United States business. A treaty country is a nation in which the United States maintains a treaty of navigation and commerce with, or with which the United States has a qualifying international agreement.
B-1/B-2 Business and Visitor Visas
The B-category visas are designed for individuals who wish to travel to the United States for tourism or to conduct temporary business. These temporary, non-immigrant visas account for a range of travel reasons and allow for a stay of up to 180 days. To qualify for a B-category visa, you must demonstrate that your travel is temporary and that you have the ability to fund your travel.
The B-1 visa is available for individuals with a desire to travel to the United States to:
- Consult with business associates
- Negotiate a contract or agreement
- Attend business meetings or a professional conference
- Sell an estate
On the other hand, the B-2 visa is designed for the following travel purposes:
- Vacation or holiday
- Receiving medical treatment
- Attend a social event
- Participate in amateur competitions
- Pursue a short, recreational course of study (like a cooking class)
Permanent Residence for Startup Founders
We provide comprehensive legal guidance to startup founders who wish to remain in the United States on a long-term basis. Based on your background and your company’s structure, there is a range of opportunities to secure permanent residence in the country. At Alcorn Immigration Law, we have pursued permanent residence for our clients using a range of strategies, including:
- EB-2 NIW
- I-140 Petition
- I-485 Adjustment of Status
- I-765 work permits
- I-131 advance parole travel documents
Our team of immigration attorneys works alongside our clients to identify the most strategic course of action and craft the strongest application possible to optimize their chances of success. Through our counsel, we have successfully secured permanent residences for numerous startup founders.
What To Do If Your Visa Has Expired
If your visa has expired, you may choose to renew or extend your current visa status or pursue a change of status to a new classification. It is recommended that individuals submit their application to renew or extend their visa at least 45 days before the expiration date. In some situations, individuals who overstay their visa may be barred from entry into the United States. Your Alcorn Immigration Law immigration attorney can help ensure that you mitigate risk and remain on the right side of the law.
Frequently Asked Questions
As a premier immigration law firm in Silicon Valley, we spend a great deal of time guiding startup founders and business leaders through the visa application process. Some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from current and prospective clients include the following.
What Types of Visas Are Available If I Want to Come to the United States for a Visit or Temporary Stay?
Nonimmigrant visas are available for individuals who want to come to the United States for a visit or temporary stay. These visas are designed to cover travel to the United States for the purposes of tourism, medical treatment, business activities, or short-term work. It is important to note that nonimmigrant visas do not allow the visa holder to live and work in the United States on a long-term or otherwise permanent basis. Broadly, nonimmigrant visas can be separated into three categories:
- Employment: For individuals who are traveling to the United States for temporary work, H visas are relatively common. L-1 intracompany transferee visas, O-1 extraordinary ability visas, and Q cultural exchange visas are also an option for short-term employment in the United States.
- Visitor: Designed for individuals who wish to visit the United States for recreational travel or business purposes, the B-1 and B-2 visas may be the ideal option.
- Study: The F category and J category visas are available for individuals who want to pursue education in the United States.
How to Choose the Right Immigration Attorney for Your Needs?
As a business owner, choosing the right immigration attorney for your needs is imperative. This decision has the ability to influence your ability to conduct business in the United States, expand your company, and maintain equity in your startup. With hundreds of law firms attempting to pitch services to you, how do you know which attorney is right for you?
A law firm’s website can provide an insightful overview of their culture, values, and services, as well as their background and approval rating. While this information is essential, it is merely one side of the story. To gain a fuller picture of whether their legal counsel is a good fit for you and your company, it is critical that you engage in conversation with prospective immigration attorneys.
Consider whether the attorney makes you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities. Do they take the time to understand your short- and long-term goals? What solutions do they offer to help you meet these goals? Does their fee structure align with your budget? These questions can help immensely when vetting potential attorneys.
How an Immigration Attorney from Alcorn Immigration Law Can Help You
At Alcorn Immigration Law, we provide exceptional legal guidance by ensuring that our clients feel understood and supported through all aspects of the arduous and oftentimes frustrating immigration process. Our practice is modern, compassionate, and innovative – meaning we tailor legal strategies to meet the unique needs of our clients. As an entrepreneur and visionary leader in your field, you understand the importance of expertise and creativity in solving the world’s most pressing problems. Our immigration attorneys employ such qualities in our legal practice to ensure successful outcomes for our clients. To connect with us and discuss how we can accomplish, together, consider contacting our office at +1(855) 546-0015 today.