Sophie Alcorn, solicitorauthor and founder Alcorn Immigration Law Sophie is an award-winning State Bar Board Certified Immigration and Nationality Lawyer in Silicon Valley, California. Sophie is passionate about immigration law that transcends borders, expands opportunity and connects the world through a compassionate, visionary and professional practice. Contact Sophie exist LinkedIn and Twitter.
TechCrunch+ members have access to the weekly “Ask Sophie” column; Use promo code ALCORN to get 50% off a one or two year subscription.
For the past five years, I have been running a Boston-based biotech startup that I co-founded while living in Pakistan and my co-founder lived in Boston. Now I want to move to the US to expand our business. What options are available to me?
— Brave Pakistani
I’m grateful to all the international founders like you who are coming to America to innovate, create jobs, and contribute to the economy! Kudos to you! It sounds like your biotech company has reached the perfect position to sponsor you for a visa and also apply for a green card if you want to stay in the U.S. permanently.
Be sure to work with an immigration attorney who can guide you and your startup through this process and help your startup successfully sponsor international talent. An immigration lawyer can also help you prepare for an in-person interview at an embassy or consulate in Pakistan if you need to have a visa. If you apply before the end of the year, you may be able to get an interview waiver for the following visa options. Until then, consular officers had the discretion to waive certain visa interview requirements for a work visa (if you had been granted a visa before and had never been denied).
Now, let’s dive into your best options.
this L-1A Intracompany transfer executive and manager visas are a great option for startup founders who want to open a new office in the United States or, like you, want to move to the United States to work in an existing office.
Your startup must meet certain requirements before it can sponsor you for an L-1A. Your company will need to have a physical location in the United States, if it doesn’t already have one. Other visas, for L-1A applications, it is actually required and can also be used as evidence of business viability. Your company may also be required to submit a business plan, growth model, and organizational chart.
For an L-1A, you must have worked continuously for at least one year within the past three years for a company related to your startup in Pakistan in an executive or management position making decisions and supervising in your startup’s U.S. office staff.
If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your L-1A, it will initially be valid for three years.You can renew your L-1A twice for two years each time, which will allow you to stay as an executive in the United States for a maximum of seven years