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Two year mandatory return for many origin countries can make J-1 messy.

Also, J-1 being run by State rather than DHS/USCIS introduces some extra weird things.


Yeah, take a look at the USCIS Visa Guide: http://www.uscis.gov/eir/visa-guide/

There are lots of different options and none are all that good a fit for founders.

If you've got a year advance notice, you can set things up for the L-1. If you've got the ability to generate old media press and can raise $500k (rule of thumb), then O-1 is a good fit. If you're from the right country with $50k-150k, then E-2. If you're from Australia, E-3.

For the O-1 in particular, the three criteria we tend to use are media coverage, mentorship/conferences, and high salary for those who have been employed previously to becoming entrepreneurs.

YC asked the White House to make some tweaks to the O-1 to be a more straightforward path for founders, but the White House went in a different direction with something yet to be announced.

We have the Global EIR program which might be of assistance. Our flagship program in Boston: http://masstech.org/innovation-institute/projects-and-initia...

We have a pathway that takes advantage of cap-exemptions built into the H-1B program and partnerships with universities. It's pretty straightforward, and in exchange for a few months of part-time work, you'll draw a runway-extending salary and be sponsored for a work visa, after which you'll have a visa runway to raise capital more easily and then switch over to 100% startup time.

www.globaleir.org will have more in a short while.


We've partnered with UMass to scale the Global EIR program -- https://www.umb.edu/news/detail/unshackled_and_global_entrep...


If you want to be a founder, consider this state level program: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2015/03/30/cu-boulder-...

Various states who have launched or are considering launching have different requirements. CO does require either an undergrad or masters' degree, so work experience wouldn't count. MA is Masters' only.

Keep in mind that the H-1B itself does offer work equivalency, but it's 3 years work experience → 1 year of academic training, which means that 5+ years is unlikely to meet the USCIS test requirements.


More time for Scrabble, hopefully? ;)


It seems extremely likely that the H-4 spouse EAD (work authorization) change has just been enacted: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USCIS-2010-001...

It was proposed by the Department of Homeland Security in May, went through a 90 day public comment period, which is now closed. We're waiting for the official announcement.


Strong suggestions.

Re: the one I know the most about, "removing the tie between the sponsoring company and the employee (so if he or she is underpaid he or she can easily switch jobs)" This is partially done already in AC21: http://immigrationroad.com/green-card/ac21-portability-chang...

The key word is portability, which is a much, much weaker tie between the sponsoring company and the employee, both in terms of job title/salary and switching employers.

However, it's incomplete because employer-based (EB) green card applications aren't portable, so there's still a horrible incentive system there that has a huge negative impact on H-1B-affected wages. Green card portability was included in S744, the comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation, that just failed.

That said, these are all legislative changes. With the failure of CIR, it will be more than a few years before another major effort is attempted on immigration, and at least until January 2017 until even small immigration reforms will be proposed in Congress.

Flatly, there is no chance of any legislative effort succeeding in coming months or even years.


It'd be nice. But likely unfeasible politically either from a legislative or regulatory perspective.

There are many problems using the H-1B even at a policy level:

-Lottery/application in April, don't become active until October

-Doesn't work well for founders despite Aug 2011 change allowing founders to arrange their board to serve as "employer": http://www.uscis.gov/news/public-releases-topic/business-imm...

-Difficult and long timeline to green card meaning startup failure often leads to a fast mandatory exit from the US, even if investors continue to believe in the founder

-Neufeld memo means that startup sponsors are treated at a high level of suspicion by USCIS bureaucrats, which results in an even longer, more time/money/effort intensive process compared to bigtech: http://www.legalactioncenter.org/sites/default/files/docs/la...


That is the exact argument against the H-1B re: "highly skilled" requirement. Code monkeys (as distinct from devs) are a very different fish, but DC doesn't know the difference

The counter I'd offer is that you should look through the eight criteria as they currently stand: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers...

If you see obvious hacks for the Infosys types that we can close off, that'd be helpful to discuss here.

EDIT: And of course anything resembling a union is verboten among the powers that be in Silicon Valley.


I was thinking along the same lines, a startup devop is a completely different person than the person who customizes Lotus Notes or SAP for a blue chip company.

I recently interviewed, and the guy was frightened when I told them I would probably not be at the same company in 5 years. Nope, I work night and day, but I'm burnt after 3 years on the same project, that's how it works. But in those 3 years, I bring the dev team from interns to a professional state, get a new UI out, and take some funding (well, at least I did it twice), and try to spread some values I deem good in the team.


so maybe if you wanted support from devs you should advocate for those changes


Right on. The proposal had to be set up to prevent such obvious abuse.

One thought was admissions rates, since folks seemed impressed by the soundbite that "YC had a lower admissions rate than Harvard," even leaving aside self-selection biases in the applicant pool.

Another is a startup community-run Self Regulatory Organization (SRO) that would get into the ranking and evaluating business a la Mattermark, with official certification/recognition by the government.


  One thought was admissions rates
At Michaelt's Used Cars And Startup Incubator, $1000 of your application fees go on paying Mechanical Turk workers $1 a time to submit junk applications for immediate rejection :)


Yep! I came up with that one, at least /grin You start running into various complexity problems with further counter hacks of course :) but institutional investors as LPs with established, credentialed due diligence processes (e.g. CalPERS) may be a response there.

But these were all details to be worked out over the next few weeks iff the WH was willing to move forward with these discussions. It's unclear if that's the case, unfortunately. So we might be discussing details that were never on the table for a broad proposal that has already been rejected on the political merits.


Definitely. Unfortunately, that would either require legislation (and something similar has been proposed for a bit by Sens. Grassley (R-IA) and Durbin (D-IL)) or a very contentious regulatory process.

Needless to say, the Infosys and Tatas of the world do have a highly developed lobbying arm. As one example of a supportive research group: http://www.offshoreinsights.com/

Startups don't have anything like this, and the tech companies don't want to rock the boat with their outsourcing partners.

To learn more, look at the Hatch amendment to S744 (comprehensive immigration reform): http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/05/22/hatch_amendme...


Can't some form of executive action be taken ? Perhaps enforce the H1 rules closer to the vest. The body shops are so bad. They force many of the onshore resources to work full-time then another 3 hours on nights + weekends to feed work to their offshore cohorts so that they can bill out the offshore guys which is where they have even better margins.


I'd defer to someone like Professors Norm Matloff or Ron Hira on this question.

Honestly, I've spent so long trying to keep startup visa out of the H-1B debate that I'm just not that familiar with it.

I don't disagree with you, but I don't have a sense of the political landscape to give you an answer that isn't a pure guess.



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