Ask Sophie: How do I move to the US to join my co-founder?

Sophie Alcorn, lawyerauthor and promoter of Alcorn Immigration Law in Silicon Valley, California, is an award-winning Certified Specialist Attorney in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Sophie is passionate about transcending borders, expanding opportunity, and connecting the world by practicing passionate, visionary, and expert immigration law. Talk to Sophie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Dear Sophie,

For the past five years, I have been running a Boston-based biotech startup that I founded while living in Pakistan while my co-founder lived in Boston. Now I want to move to US to expand our business. What options do I have?

— Plucky Pakistani

Dear Plucky,

I’m grateful for all the international founders like you who come to the US to innovate, create jobs, and contribute to the economy! And kudos to you! It sounds like your biotech has hit the sweet spot to sponsor you for a visa as well as a green card if you want to stay in the US permanently.

Be sure to work with an immigration attorney, who can guide you and your startup through this process and set your startup up for success in sponsoring international talent. An immigration lawyer can also prepare you for an in-person interview at the embassy or a consulate in Pakistan if you need to have one. You can get an interview waiver for the visa options below if you apply before the end of the year. Until then, consular officers reserve the right to waive the visa interview requirement for some work visas if you have previously been issued a visa and have not been denied.

Now, explore your best options.

L-1A visa

the L-1A The visa for intracompany transferee executives and managers is a great option for startup founders looking to set up a new office in the US or — like you — want to move to the US to work from an existing office.

Your startup must meet certain requirements to be sponsored for the L-1A. Your company will need a physical office location in the US if it doesn’t already have one. Unlike other visas, for an L-1A petition it is absolutely necessary and can also serve as evidence of business viability. Your company will likely also need to submit business plans, growth models, and organizational charts.

For L-1A, you must have worked for your startup in Pakistan for at least one continuous year in the last three years for a related company, holding an executive or managerial position in your startup’s office in the US, and make decisions and manage employees.

If you are approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an L-1A, it is good for three years initially. You can renew your L-1A twice for two years each, giving you a maximum stay of seven years as an executive in the US

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