If you’re a startup founder or a recruiter looking to hire someone from overseas to be physically working in your company within the United States, there are steps you need to consider in preparing your company for the H-1B process.
1. Your company needs to be formed.
Under the U.S. immigration law, the best and easiest way to sponsor an employee for a green card is through a registered company that exists in the United States.
2. Seek your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
This should be something your business attorney would include in their service, which will come to you in the mail called the SS4 letter. Your FEIN is also used as your tax ID when filing taxes.
3. Have a bank account (with money in it, of course).
There is no minimum requirement really. But they’re going to question how you’re going to hire somebody if you don’t have any money so this is where your bank accounts come in.
4. Figure out your signatory for the immigration paperwork.
This could be somebody on the board such as the president, secretary, or an employee like the CEO, COO, or the HR director depending on the size of your company. Make sure the person not only has the authority but also has the time to understand the process on behalf of the company.
5. Make a plan for creating a payroll service.
Know how you’re going to actually employ the individual you’re getting a visa for once they’re able to start working for you such as completing the I-9 verification and setting up the payroll service.
6. Consider having a physical office location.
This matters more for some visa types. Sometimes there’s going to be some pushback about very early-stage startups from the USCIS where the government is doubting the legitimacy of the company. Since the government is old school and isn’t familiar with startups and technology companies, their goal is to weed out fraud and people trying to manipulate the immigration system to get benefits that the beneficiaries aren’t eligible for.
7. Be mindful of your recruiting funnel.
Be aware of whether you want to have any policies in place about who you will and won’t sponsor for immigration benefits.
Look to H1-B Transfer and Extensions
It’s very easy to get an H-1B transfer completed for a candidate who has already gone through the lottery.
Candidates are allowed to work for up to 6 years in H-1B status for any employer who sponsors them. If another company got somebody through the lottery and they still have part of their six years left, they can come work for you.
Moreover, they get to have unlimited years of H-1B transfers beyond the six-year original maximum until the green card is granted
For more information and resources on the different visa types for tech immigration, check out Immigration Law for Tech Startups podcast. If you’d like to listen, head over to https://www.alcorn.law/podcast/003-the-different-types-of-nonimmigrant-visas.