Draper University recently invited me to speak to participants of its Silicon Valley entrepreneurship program.
In addition to covering the main pathways for international entrepreneurs to move to the U.S. to grow their startups, I focused on the journeys of three immigrant founders. Their stories all show how employing a bit of creativity produces successful outcomes—even in immigration.
OPT to O-1A to EB-1A
One of our clients, a woman from China, came to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa to get a master’s degree in computer science and did Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation. She contacted the Alcorn team to explore her options for remaining in the U.S. after her OPT status ended.
The typical route for individuals on OPT is to find an employer willing to sponsor you for an H-1B visa and eventually a green card. However, under the H-1B lottery system, the chance of being selected to apply for an H-1B is extremely low. So, we recommended she take an alternative route to a green card.
She transitioned from OPT to an O1-A visa for individuals of extraordinary ability, which she received. After that, we helped her self petition for an EB-1A green card for individuals of extraordinary ability. The EB-1A is one of the few green cards that do not require an employer sponsor.
Alternative to H-4 EAD
The Alcorn Immigration Law team recently helped a client who had an H-1B visa from his employer. This company had also started the process for sponsoring him for a green card. He wanted to found his own startup. We helped him transfer his H-1B from his former employer to the startup where he became an employee. And we helped him and his wife find a path to a green card that avoided his wife having to get a H-4 and a work permit (Employment Authorization Document or EAD), which the Trump administration has been threatening to end.
Investor Visa Without Liquid Assets
The E-2 visa for investors allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. if their home country has a treaty of trade with the U.S.—and if they invest a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. The E-2 visa does not require a minimum investment. However, I typically advise clients to invest $100,000 or more of their personal funds if they are seeking “investor” status.
A young startup founder from the U.K. sought our help to devise an immigration strategy that would allow her to grow her company in the U.S. Her situation was complicated by the fact she was born in a country that doesn’t have a trade treaty with the U.S. She naturalized in the U.K. What’s more, she didn’t have liquid funds to invest in her U.S. operation, but a U.S. venture fund invested in her seed round. Needless to say, the Alcorn Immigration Law team successfully applied for an E-2 on behalf of this client.
Schedule a Strategy Session
The Alcorn Immigration Law team can help. We enjoy the challenge of creating customized immigration strategies to enable international entrepreneurs to achieve their personal and professional goals. If you would like a strategy session, contact us.