Sophie Alcorn is the founder of Alcorn Immigration Law in Silicon Valley and the 2019 Global Law Experts Awards as California Law Firm of the Year for Entrepreneur Immigration Services. It connects people with the companies and opportunities that expand their lives.
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Here is another edition from Dear Sophie, the column of advice that answers questions about immigration at work in technology companies.
"Your questions are critical to disseminating knowledge that will enable people around the world to rise above borders and realize their dreams," said Sophie Alcorn, an immigration attorney in Silicon Valley. "Whether you're in People Ops, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I'd love to answer your questions in my next column."
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Does the United States have a starting visa? If not, what are the best startup visas?
If my friend is a dreamer in the US who is undocumented but wants to start a startup, is that possible?
– Happy in Chile
Enjoy your friend today as DACA is back! DACA is Deferred Child Arrivals and provides work permits for people brought to the United States as children. Some of the basics to determining if your friend might qualify for DACA is if they were younger than 31 on June 15, 2012. if they came to the United States before the age of 16; and if you have lived in the US since June 15, 2007. USCIS announced that it is accepting DACA applications, renewals and early probation papers for travel in two-year increments for the first time. This is great news for a lot of people who really feel at home in the US, who trained here or who served in the armed forces, and who want to make further contributions to the tech ecosystem and economy.
Besides DACA, what other options are there for founders to move to the USA in 2021?
To be clear, the US does not currently have a starting visa (more on this in my comment in the Times of San Diego). According to the National Foundation for American Policy, if the US had introduced a startup visa in 2016, it would have created 1 to 3.2 million jobs over a 10-year period. I am doing all I can personally to help create the U.S. startup visa, or possibly revive the parole of international entrepreneurs when we look at the Biden / Harris administration.
That being said, we have solutions, advanced information, and creative options, some of which I can share with you here. Check out 7 of the most startup-friendly visas. After COVID in 2021, you will find the most common visas and green cards that are valid for many founders here. Because immigration law is very nuanced, people often contact me to find specific alternative strategies that better fit their long-term goals.
B-1 visa for business travelers
The B-1 is a (temporary) nonimmigrant visa that entrepreneurs can use to explore the US market. With a B-1 visa, a founder or entrepreneur cannot be employed in the USA, but can go on a business trip. This means that you should not be doing any paid or unpaid work for a US company while you are traveling. However, some activities for founders are fine, such as B. Meetings with investors, contract negotiations, interviewing and hiring employees and setting up an office. A B-1 visa usually allows a maximum stay of one year – six months after the first application and an extension of six months. It is usually best to spend less than half the time in the US with B status to make future listings easier.
Founders who are citizens of certain countries, including Chile, may qualify for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) visa waiver program, which allows them to travel to the United States for 90 days or less on business without first entering Obtaining a visa. ESTA usually cannot be expanded or changed if you are in the United States.