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Ask HN: Foreign YC Founders - did you move to California for the program?
44 points by jongold on Aug 19, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments
Heard various stories from international founders - living for 3 months on tourist visas, flying back & forth for office hours but living mainly at home etc - what did you do?

Also opened it up as a Quora thread if you want to answer anonymously - http://www.quora.com/Y-Combinator/Foreign-YC-Founders-where-did-you-live-during-the-program

Thanks :)

Not YC but Tech Wildcatters (April-July): I hail from India holding a business visa and depending on airports, I generally don't have a problem staying 3-6 months (my I94 always gets 6 months of stamp). SFO and DFW immigration has been very welcoming to entrepreneurs. Can't say the same for ORD. The officer didn't know what a startup meant and thought I was making up a word; oh, and also apparently stealing jobs :/ Although I've only landed there just once and it could've been a one off case.

Strictly speaking, B1/B2 doesn't allow you to work. I have a visa called B1 in lieu of H which allows you to do H work without taking a salary, of course. It's also not tied to a particular company but to an individual. I have no idea how I got this visa because I applied for a regular B1 and the annotation was added to the visa – it also isn't a widely recognized visa (embassy issues it) and I would suggest against applying for it. I guess they gave it considering my history of startups.

I think it's pretty much mandatory to move there for three months. I've read a few days ago something where pg explains they tried once to have a founder remotely and it was not successful, they were way behind the others for demo day, it was hard to progress/exchange/etc. But he also said that you can manage with only part of the team moving there, for example if you're three and one cannot commit to moving that would still be ok and could work.

EDIT : ok found it, it's right in the FAQ, must have been reading it again a few days ago ^^ http://ycombinator.com/faq.html under "Can we do it without moving to where you are?"

I moved from England to San Jose for the 3 months (rented a place from another YC founder).

B1 (business) visa is easiest to get and it allows you to do fundraising, which is what you officially do during YC process. It allows you to apply for 6 month visit on the first entry to the US and then multiple re-entries until you'll get funding and find possibilities/time for a more useful visa, like J, E, O or H1B.

Exactly what you heard. Some VC's wanted the entire eng team to move to SV (not trivial if it's more than just you and cofounder) but we managed to not go there.

If you have an existing company that's been around for a bit you may want to look into L1 visas.

Plan on moving here for a while as a founder.

I would actually be curious which lengths people go at the Visa Interview to get to the US.

Yes there is the Visa Waiver Program for people who can so, but assuming you are working on your company, I doubt that technically legal.

From my understanding of the law, you cannot enter the US in YC unless you don't actually work for your company. Then again, in reality you can probably get away with just staying wishy-washy (for which I would be still curious what people have said: Im going to learn at a program? Going to visit some people?)

I'm fairly sure the visa waiver program allows business, otherwise people in other countries would have to apply for a new visa every time they came here for a business trip.

The visa waiver allows for business purposes but it gets complicated. Many go for three months, return for a while and then go back or sort out their full visa. The YC program is only 3 months long so it's not a huge problem for many.

You do have to be in California for most of your time, just because you wouldn't get much of the value otherwise.

How do visas work in this situation? Are you allowed to work on tourist visas?

Presumably by 'tourist visa', OP means the visa waiver program (at least for people from Europe/Australia/etc) - you can enter on this if you're visiting on business. Where business stops and work ends seems like a difficult question to answer.

He's from India, I expect he means some sort of genuine tourist entry visa. Never been to the US, so I don't know about its visas, however.

I'm from the UK - meant the VWP :)

Thanks for the replies everyone

Oopsie. Got confused with another HN story, my bad!

Not YC, but from a Dallas-based incubator. I flew out multiple times on business AFTER getting into the US, and every time I flew back in, I was granted an additional six months stay.

I'll do it if I apply next time and get in.

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