The startup founder’s guide to U.S. immigration
Written by Elizabeth Jamae, Partner at D’Alessio Law Group
Some of the important questions you should ask yourself before deciding to expand to the U.S. are:
- What are the cost/overhead of operating in the U.S. compared to your home country?
- If you are setting up a second office, how will a distributed team impact your operations?
- What are the tax consequences of operating in the U.S?
- At what point do we move staff from the headquarters to the U.S?
More than half of U.S. startups in the U.S. are founded by foreign nationals, according to the Wall Street Journal. In this article, we will discuss the U.S. visas founders and human resource teams should understand when expanding to the U.S.
There are two main categories of U.S. visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant.
- Immigrant – For travel to the U.S. on a temporary basis.
- Nonimmigrant – For travel to live permanently in the U.S.
- B-1 Visa
- Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Some allowable activities on a B-1 visa are:
- Merchants taking orders for goods manufactured abroad;
- Negotiating contracts;
- Consulting with clients or business associates;
- Litigating; and/or
- Undertaking independent research
There are three main nonimmigrant visas that most startup founders use to work on their startups in the U.S.
- O-1A – Visa for individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (click here for a list of O-1A criteria)
- L-1A – Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager (click here for the qualifying factors for an L1 visa)
- E-2 – Treaty Investors (click here for a list of treaty countries)
- EB-1A – Extraordinary Ability (click here for an understanding of EB-1A requirements)
- EB-1C – Multinational manage or executive (click here for an understanding of EB-1C requirements)
- bank statements;
- lease agreements;
- 5-year P & L statements;
- Invoices from current clients;
- Letters of intent;
For local consulate visa appointment, wait time click here.