Santa Clara County Immigration Attorney for Tech Founders

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Immigration to the United States has always been challenging, especially for founders and entrepreneurs. To overcome these challenges, you need a strategic partner to help make your expansion to the United States a success. At Alcorn Immigration, our Santa Clara County immigration attorneys for tech founders devise innovative and creative strategies that enable international entrepreneurs in the tech industry to further their innovations in the United States. To learn more about how we can help, consider contacting us at (855) 546-0015 today. 

O-1A Extraordinary Ability Founder Visa

The O-1 visa category is available for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in their field. The O-1A subcategory is designated for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the fields of science, business, education, or athletics. Extraordinary ability is defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as sustained international or national acclaim and extensive documented recognition of a person’s achievements.

How to Apply for the O-1A Visa?

The O-1A visa application must be completed by a sponsoring employer. If you plan to work on your startup, you will need to establish your own company to create the employer-employee relationship. An employer-employee relationship is non-existent if the applicant cannot be fired, meaning you can be the company’s sole stockholder provided other individuals in the entity can fire you.

The O-1A visa application consists of the I-129 petition, the $460 filing fee, and supporting documentation such as: 

Some examples of potential evidence of extraordinary ability may include an offer letter to a prestigious accelerator, published articles in major media sources, or participation in conference panels. Our team of experienced Santa Clara County immigration attorneys for tech founders has guided thousands of startup owners and entrepreneurs through this process, navigating the employer-employee requirement and crafting the strongest application possible to optimize their chances of success. 

H-1B Transfers and Lottery for Executives & Founders

The H-1B visa is reserved for employees in specialized fields. Many executives and founders favor this visa category due to its flexibility, 6-year validity period, and dependent benefits. Every year, 85,000 H-1B visas are issued to employees in specialty occupations. These visas are granted via a randomized selection of candidates known as the lottery system. 

How to Apply for the H-1B Visa?

Before filing for the H-1B visa on your behalf, your tech founder immigration attorney will submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to obtain certification through the Department of Labor. This certification is used to demonstrate that the wages and working conditions of American employees are not negatively affected by the H-1B position. Then, the I-129 petition may be submitted with the filing fee of $460. Once the petition is approved, your attorney can begin the process of applying for the H-1B visa. 

L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

The L-1 visa allows managers, executives, and employees with specialized knowledge to transfer from an organization’s affiliated office abroad to one of its offices in the United States. For tech founders, if you have worked for your startup for at least one continuous year in the past three years (and can document this via payroll or tax documents), you may pursue an L-1 visa to establish an office in Silicon Valley. 

The application for the L-1 visa involves the I-129 petition, a $460 filing fee, and a range of supporting paperwork evidencing the business operations and growth models of your startup and its new U.S. subsidiary. Our experienced Santa Clara County immigration attorneys for tech founders approach evidence requirements in the same way you would provide due diligence to an early-stage investor. Venture capitalists want to know that you are an honest founder who will use investment dollars to expand your business. Likewise, the USCIS wants to see that you will use your L-1 visa wisely to grow your company on American soil.  

Additional Founder Visas

Additional founder visas like the E-1 treaty trader visa and E-2 treaty investor visa are reserved for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. To qualify for these visas, applicants must travel to the U.S. to engage in trade or develop and direct the operation of a company they have invested substantial capital. 

B-1 & B-2 Business and Visitor Visas

The B-1 business visa and the B-2 visitor visa are short-term, non-immigrant visas that allow you to visit the United States for 6-month visits. There are very strict guidelines on the types of activities that can be done during your time in the United States, and you must prove that you plan to return to your home country after the visit. Some allowable activities include negotiating contracts, consulting with clients, raising capital, or participating in an accelerator program. 

Permanent Residence for Startup Founders

Permanent residence is a long-term solution for startup founders who wish to commit to growing their company in the United States. The flexibility of a Green Card provides a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs to launch several companies without needing to secure a new visa for each business endeavor. It also streamlines the process of switching employers as necessary. 

There are several startup founder Green Card options available. At Alcorn Immigration, we tend to favor these options: 

  • EB-1A. Similar to the O-1 visas, the EB-1A Green Card is for individuals with extraordinary ability in their field. While it is regarded as one of the quickest employment-based immigration options, the requirements for qualifying are stringent. 
  • EB-1C. The qualifications of this Green Card are quite similar to the L-1 nonimmigrant visa, making this an ideal option for multinational executives or managers
  • EB-2 NIW. With a fairly high approval rate, this Green Card waives the PERM process, thus speeding up the process. In conjunction with having an advanced degree or exceptional ability, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the National Interest Waiver criteria

Legal Launch

Navigating the complexities of the U.S. immigration system can be incredibly time-consuming. For this reason, we offer Legal Launch – a four-week course designed to help founders and their key team members become more qualified to immigrate to the U.S. Through this course, we strive to provide you with 100% confidence and clarity on your situation and ensure that you understand the next steps to scale your company. 

How to Choose the Best Immigration Attorney for Founders

As a tech founder, your choice of immigration attorney will directly influence your ability to conduct business in the United States. One key ally you will need on your immigration journey is an attorney who understands the complexities of both your goals and the legal landscape. This decision requires careful consideration, and the following key factors can help you select the best immigration attorney for tech founders

  • The firm has a strong track record of success.
  • Your attorney is responsive and manages your case so you do not have to.
  • They have a plan in place to help you win your right to freedom.
  • The legal team understands industry trends and relates to tech-minded entrepreneurs and individuals.

About Sophie Alcorn

As the Founder and CEO of Alcorn Immigration, Sophie Alcorn is a Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of California. She leveraged her expertise to create Alcorn Immigration, which has since been voted top law firm in California for technology startups. Now, as an author, podcast host, and TechCrunch contributor, she shares her knowledge of the immigration journey. 

The Alcorn Method

Our team of experienced Santa Clara County immigration attorneys for tech founders has spent years crafting our proven approach. The Alcorn Method is a manifestation of the thousands of approvals we have secured for our clients. When you work with an Alcorn immigration attorney, you can expect the following experience: 

  • Listen to your goals and expectations to gain a full understanding of your case and strategize effectively to help you meet your objectives.  
  • Prepare thoroughly and ensure that all proper documentation is included within your application.
  • Help you successfully file your application according to the rules and regulations of the USCIS.
  • While we cannot make guarantees, we are confident in our ability to win your case and secure approval for you to travel to the United States to expand your business.

Immigration Resources for Founders

At Alcorn Immigration, we have created a wealth of resources for startup founders and entrepreneurs to better understand how to successfully expand their business in the United States. These resources include: 

Accomplish, Together

United States immigration is complex and the journey for startups is not always straightforward. Sophie Alcorn has dedicated the past decade of her practice to excellence in business-related immigration. As a result, Alcorn Immigration is now the top law firm in California for technology startups. To strategize your options for scaling your company in Mountain View, Palo Alto, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, or San Jose, consider speaking with an experienced immigration attorney for tech founders by contacting us at (855) 546-0015 today.