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Non-US Visa Applicants to the US - Don't You Think It's Time We Compared Notes?
48 points by petesmithy 2845 days ago | 24 comments
OK, I'll kick things off. In our case, we have a US founder and two UK founders, a further two US employees, and a UK employee.. We started life as a UK limited company, and then incorporated a US Delaware parent co. So now the UK company is wholly owned by the Delaware corporation, and all the shareholders hold stock only in the US co.

Sound complicated? It is, but entirely doable and we negotiated fixed fees and payment deferral with our US lawyers (UK lawyers are twice the price by the way..).

This was not the most efficient way of getting from zero to functioning company, but it has presented us with some interesting options for visas.

Firstly, the UK guys (founders and employee) can be employees of the UK company and get B1 visas for the US for the first twelve months . Physically, we can be in US, but be paid by the UK entity.

We can do this for 12 months than get E2 (Treaty Investor) visas so long as the US parent continues to be at least 50% owned by UK nationals.

Or we can decamp the whole team to Europe for the first year where it's pretty straightforward to get work permits, and get our heads down over there before returning to the US.

We can work in the UK for a year and go back to the US on L1 (intra-company transferee) visas. OR We can work in the UK for a year and in that time try for H1Bs (application due in March 1, visas would be valid from October 2008). And a couple of us would probably pass muster as 'Individuals of Extraordinary Ability (the O1 visa) coming to do work in the US in the area of our abilities.

So that's our pretty unique situation - however, perhaps there's a lesson there? From the very beginning, explore having two companies - European and US - to give yourself the maximum number of options.




"We can do this for 12 months than get E2 (Treaty Investor) visas so long as the US parent continues to be at least 50% owned by UK nationals".

why can't you get the e2 visas from the start? that's a great visa to have.

"We can work in the UK for a year and in that time try for H1Bs"

the buxfers successfully applied for H1bs for their own companies

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E2 sounds even better than I thought then..

This just proves how difficult it is to cut to the truth..

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Definitely - on that note my biggest piece of advice would be to find an immigration lawyer that has a good trackrecord of success. There are so many grey areas in this business it's better to leave it to a professional to worry about the small details.

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Seconded. Furthermore, their immigration policy changes year to year; so one person's experience a few years ago may not be applied to this year's applicant.

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How did the buxfers stay in the US before they got their H1Bs?

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I don't think it is legal to apply for an H1 in a company where you have significant ownership.

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that's not true, all you need is for someone other than yourself to sign the petition.

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Someone other not related to the company or I can sign for my cofounders?

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You can sign for your co-founders - the person signing has to be a director of the company so it probably has to be a co-founder. If you have specific questions about the H1 you should contact the Buxfer founders - they're the first YC company to successfully get them.

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Thanks for sharing this. I'm in Ghana, and earlier today I had discussions with two US nationals who'd like to join in my startup. I'm surely going to watch this thread.

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sounds exciting - let me know if you want any advice (petesmithy82 at gmail)

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L1 is an expensive visa (I have one). E2 is very hard to qualify for - but your plan does sound like it will work, as long as you have the qualifications.

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in what sense is the L1 expensive?

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This may sound like a stupid question, but how did you meet some of your international cohorts? Old fashioned IRC Chat or elance? I've been talking wtih my co-founders about getting some great help internationally, but I just don't know where to start. Any resources from anybody?

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facebook groups (together with news.yc) is how I found my UK co-founders (I'm from the US)

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Cool. Thanks for the reply.

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really interesting! nice post. thx for sharing your experience

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For H1B you need to pay prevailing wages.

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Dude, you guys are making it so freaking hard on yourselves. You have the right to be in the US for up to 6 months I believe without a working visa. Assuming you are a startup who the fuck knows that you are working when you are not supposed too. I say come in as a visitor and while you are here for "fun", make the connections and taste the waters. If everything is running smoothly then you can contact the Immmigration in place and make the necessary changes. YOu will be surprised how much can be done if you sit down with them live and tell them you are building a 100 million dollar company, but you need his/her help to do it legally. That's my take

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This really is just totally and utterly wrong and bad advice in just about every way possible:

"while you are here for "fun", make the connections and taste the waters. If everything is running smoothly then you can contact the Immmigration in place and make the necessary changes"

- If things are running smoothly after 6 months you're going to be kicking yourself and wishing you had sorted out these visa issues earlier when you had more time to deal with them and they were a considerably smaller threat to your startup.

"YOu will be surprised how much can be done if you sit down with them live and tell them you are building a 100 million dollar company"

- You'll only be surprised if you actually thought having a sit down chat with someone from Immigration and telling them how great your startup is was going to have any effect at all. If you've ever actually met someone from Immigration you'll know they really couldn't care less and will expect you to file the right forms just like everyone else.

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I would strongly advise against this. The INS likes to look at things you've done in the past (entering the country for pleasure) and argue that you had certain intentions at the time (starting a business, which they could deduce from the fact that you're still in the country and now applying for a visa). Given that the worst case, deportation, bars you from entering the US for ten years, it's not worth it imho.

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Yeah sorry rokhayakebe you're way off. Try following your own advice if you like but good luck pal!

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no need to.

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don't be like this guy ---> Thomas Dullien

http://addxorrol.blogspot.com/2007/07/ive-been-denied-entry-...

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