Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”
I’m an entrepreneur working on building up my qualifications for the EB-1A green card (or maybe an O-1A).
Toward that goal, I’ve been trying to get media coverage about my startup, but it’s competitive out there! Any advice?
— Craving Coverage
Thanks for reaching out! Yesterday was the six-year anniversary of my law firm, and shortly after I founded it, I set a personal challenge: to achieve the level of success that would qualify me (if I needed a U.S. green card) to meet the EB-1A criteria as a person of “extraordinary ability.” What right did I have to expect this of my clients if I couldn’t achieve it myself?
Starting from scratch (my kids were young, I had taken a multiyear career break, and I didn’t have a network in Silicon Valley), it took me about two years to reach this level of success (and it was also a great marketing plan for my firm).
So, I know this from experience: Achieving the level of success required for an EB-1A or O-1A is totally possible. And remember, you only need to meet at least three of the criteria to qualify!
Offer your expertise
The key is to be strategic about getting media coverage. Know the audience of the trade publication or major media outlet where you’re seeking coverage and figure out the type of stories that get their interest.
Generally, reporters like to be the first to break news or to get an exclusive story, so consider offering a scoop about a significant multimillion-dollar deal involving your company or a story idea, such as an emerging trend in your field or a unique perspective on a big issue, to one reporter to start. If that reporter isn’t interested, move on to another.
One service that can help technology entrepreneurs is EllisX, which helps founders get coverage for their startups in articles and podcasts and secure speaking engagements. Or you can try to cultivate a relationship on your own with a journalist who writes about your field. Offer yourself as a resource to explain new developments or challenging issues in your field. I took this approach when I began working on meeting the EB-1A criteria, and I soon found myself being quoted as an expert on immigration in publications around the globe — and that led to me writing this weekly column!
Remember, for O-1A and EB-1A immigration purposes, newsletters and press releases that were never published in a major publication, as well as articles in student-run or university publications, usually don’t count.
Keep in mind that writing articles and getting them published in a professional or trade publication in your field or a major media outlet also meets one of the EB-1A green card qualification criteria. Blog posts and articles that do not list you as the author often don’t count here. But YouTube videos could count if they generate a substantial number of views.
The content matters, too: The more you can get personally profiled and quoted about your achievements, the better.
If you haven’t already, I recommend consulting with an immigration attorney to discuss the EB-1A and other options that may be available to you. While the EB-1A is one of the quickest green cards in terms of processing and waiting time (since the EB-1A is currently for individuals born in all countries, according to the September Visa Bulletin), the evidentiary standard is high for qualifying for this green card.
Like the EB-1A, the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) is an employment-based green card that allows the beneficiaries to self-petition, meaning they don’t need to have an employer sponsor. But unlike the EB-1A, the bar for qualifying for the EB-2 NIW is less stringent. Check out the previous Dear Sophie column in which I provide tips for applying for the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW green cards, which are the top options for startup founders.
In addition, the diversity green card lottery is coming up in October. Depending on your country of birth, you could participate. Read more about the diversity immigrant visa program here.
You can do this! Wishing you the best!
Have a question for Sophie? Ask it here. We reserve the right to edit your submission for clarity and/or space.
The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on the limitations of “Dear Sophie,” please view our full disclaimer. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn Immigration Law.
Sophie’s podcast, Immigration Law for Tech Startups, is available on all major platforms. If you’d like to be a guest, she’s accepting applications!
Also published on Medium.