San Mateo County Immigration Attorney for Tech Founders

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Silicon Valley is the global center for technology and innovation, attracting thousands of entrepreneurs who have a vision for their company and the motivation to expand into the American market. Securing legal status to grow your company in the U.S. is difficult, however, and you need a strategic partner to overcome the many challenges that stand in the way. 

Voted the top law firm in California for technology startups, the team at Alcorn Immigration has the knowledge and expertise needed to secure approval for your founder visa or Green Card. To discuss the key immigration pathways for entrepreneurs and tech founders with our immigration attorneys for tech founders, consider contacting us at (855) 546-0015 today. 

O-1A Extraordinary Ability Founder Visa

The O-1A visa is reserved for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in the fields of science, business, education, or athletics. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, individuals with sustained international or national acclaim and a diverse range of documented recognition of their achievements are considered to have extraordinary ability. 

How to Apply for the O-1A Visa?

A sponsoring employer is required to apply for the O-1A visa, but if you plan to develop your startup in the country, your company can act as the visa sponsor. As long as there is an established employer-employee relationship, or if you have a designated agent filing on your behalf, you can apply for the O-1A visa as a startup founder.  

Along with the I-129 petition and $460 filing fee, you will need to include a range of documentation in your application, including: 

  • Relevant information about your company, including incorporation documents and/or business plans.
  • Evidence of extraordinary ability proving that you meet three of the ten criteria outlined by the USCIS. This can include an offer letter from a prestigious accelerator, participation in tech conference panels, commercial contributions, or even a comparatively high level of compensation for your work.
  • Information about your previous visits to the United States.

Our team of experienced immigration attorneys for tech founders has successfully worked with early-stage founders to secure O-1A visas. As part of our practice at Alcorn Immigration, we offer a complimentary O-1A assessment for founders as well as an extraordinary ability course to ensure that you meet the necessary criteria for the O-1A visa. 

H-1B Transfers and Lottery for Executives & Founders

Employees who work in specialty occupations can secure an H-1B visa via the randomized selection of candidates known as the lottery system. Every year, 85,000 IT specialists, computing experts, and software developers (among others) are beneficiaries of the H-1B visa – a coveted visa category due to its path to permanent residence, 6-year validity, and family benefits. Executives and founders who hold a bachelor’s degree or have equivalent professional experience in their field can apply for this visa. 

How to Apply for the H-1B Visa?

The H-1B petition must include a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA), which details the basic wage and location information of the proposed employment. After securing an approved LCA, you may move forward with the application process. At Alcorn Immigration, we help entrepreneurs leverage cap-exempt employment to avoid the H-1B lottery and ensure approval of your visa. 

L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

The L-1 intracompany transferee visa is intended for founders, executives, and key employees who have specialized knowledge in their field. As long as you have worked for your company for at least one year continuously – as documented by payroll or tax documents – you may apply for the L-1 visa to expand your office in Silicon Valley.

At Alcorn Immigration, our immigration attorneys for tech founders employ the same strategies you would use to show due diligence to an early-stage investor. Just like venture capitalists want to know that your startup will thrive, USCIS wants to see that you will leverage your visa to expand your company in the American economy. 

Additional Founder Visas

The E-1 treaty trader visa and E-2 treaty investor visa are key options for citizens of treaty countries. These visas require that applicants travel to the United States for trade or to develop and direct a company in which they have invested significant capital. 

B-1 & B-2 Business and Visitor Visas

A B-1 business visa or B-2 visitor visa may be the right fit if you have not yet established your startup. These visas can be used to travel to the United States to:

  • Secure funding or an office space for your startup
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Conduct business meetings
  • Participate in social events
  • Tourism

Importantly, you are not permitted to work for an already established company on these visas, nor are you allowed to begin operating a new company in the U.S. If you want to expand your already-established startup into the American market, a different visa category may be a better fit. 

Permanent Residence for Startup Founders

If you want to grow your startup in the U.S., permanent residence may be an ideal long-term solution. Permanent residence offers flexibility, the ability to grow multiple companies without requiring a new visa for each business endeavor, and the opportunity to easily change employers are necessary. 

Our team has worked alongside countless entrepreneurs to secure permanent residence and continue their work in the U.S. uninterrupted. For individuals with extraordinary ability (such as current O-1A visa holders), the EB-1A Green Card is ideal due to its quick processing time. For multinational executives and managers who wish to transfer to their company’s U.S. office and remain in the country long-term, the EB-1C Green Card is preferable. Alternatively, given its relatively high approval rate and streamlined process, the EB-2 NIW Green Card may be the right choice if you meet the National Interest Waiver criteria. 

Legal Launch

Navigating stringent eligibility requirements, visa limitations, and the extensive immigration process can be incredibly time-consuming. For this reason, we offer Legal Launch to motivated tech founders who are ready to strategize their path to growing their company in the U.S. Whether you are confident that you qualify for the O-1A, H-1B, L-1 visa and want to know how to proceed with your application, or if you are looking into your employment-based Green Card options for permanent residence, we can provide 100% clarity on your situation and next steps to scale your company. 

How to Choose the Best Immigration Attorney for Founders

Being a tech founder, you know that the quality of your team directly impacts the success and growth of your company. This includes your legal team, who will work with you to put your goals in action while accounting for legal challenges along the way. When researching immigration attorneys for tech founders, consider not only their track record of success but their industry experience as well. 

Do they relate to tech-minded entrepreneurs and understand the complexities of the industry? Do they create solutions based on your goals and walk you through the right strategy to get there? Are they compassionate and work with integrity? These factors will play a key role in their ability to help you secure your freedom in the U.S. 

About Sophie Alcorn

Founder and CEO Sophie Alcorn is certified as a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of California. Created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, Alcorn Immigration has been voted as the top law firm in California for technology startups. Now, as an author, podcast host, and TechCrunch contributor, Sophie Alcorn is passionate about sharing her knowledge of the immigration journey in the startup context. 

The Alcorn Method

Alcorn Immigration was created using the same roadmap that entrepreneurs follow to establish and expand their enterprises As such, we offer a unique perspective and approach to employment-based immigration, guided by the following overarching steps: 

  • Strategize. As immigration attorneys for tech founders, we begin every case with a conversation focused on our client’s scaling goals, business objectives, and unique professional background. Using this information, we tailor an innovative and action-oriented legal strategy to help entrepreneurs grow their company in the U.S.
  • Prepare. Preparation is the key to success, and we work to craft the strongest application possible to showcase our clients’ abilities and achievements. 
  • File. We will file your application according to the rules and regulations of the USCIS and State Department. 
  • Win. Securing approval for our clients is our favorite part of the process and we are confident in our ability to win. 

Immigration Resources for Founders

We are proud to offer a suite of immigration resources for tech founders to help ease the stress of the visa or Green Card application process, including:

Accomplish, Together

As the top law firm in California for technology startups, Alcorn Immigration is here to help you navigate the pathways for entrepreneur employment in the United States. We partner with companies in San Mateo, Menlo Park, South San Francisco, Redwood City, or Berkeley to expand into new markets and unlock opportunities abroad. To discuss your options with our team of seasoned immigration attorneys for tech founders and begin accomplishing, together, consider contacting us at (855) 546-0015 today.