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Working Visa Options for Tech Startups

Many foreign nationals have been coming to the US to start their startup for centuries.  And it seems things have not gotten easier.  Though there is some hope that with the immigration reform bill in Congress, things will be a bit simpler – if it passes! Still if you’re planning on doing a tech startup this week in New York and your passport isn’t blue with “United States of America” on it, there still are options.  
Canada Option

If you want to wait it out in Canada until that US immigration law passes, you can apply for the Canadian Startup Visa.  Basically, if your startup is VC funded, you get a visa to come to Canada.  Hang out in Montreal and come to NYC for monthly meetings and raise money with New York VCs. More information from these sites: Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Startup Visa Canada.
Go live on a ship and work near Silicon Valley

If you’re fed up with the idea of New York and you like sea life, you can go live on a ship.  It’s a cool place to hang out and code while you figure out your visa. Blueseed is creating a startup community on  a cruise ship 12 nautical miles from the coast of San Francisco, in international waters.

Explore your options with a lawyer

Want to stay in the US for your startup – Get a lawyer to help you if you can (I’m not one).  There are tons of tricks and things you can use.  Lot’s of interesting US visas that may or may not apply:

  • If you are from Australia you might qualify for a special visa that’s much easier to get.  If you prove that you especially gifted in some tech area, there is a special visa you can get.
  •  If you have a lot of money, you can invest 1 million or (500K in some areas) and get an EB5 visa
  • There are also university/work study programs, if you can get into an accredited study program.  Careful, because universities are required to keep tabs on how many hours you work and how much you study.
  • You can also create an offshore startup company that can sponsor your visa to setup in the US.  Your offshore company needs to look legit for it to sponsor you and get past an immigration officer. In any case, there are some requirements to do this, but much less than the EB5 visa.

Fill out paperwork

ClearPathImmigration.com is a local NYC startup run by the former head of US immigration helps other startups with getting visas.  Check out their site, it’s really the turbo tax for visas.

Join the local NY International Tech community

Finally, join the NY International Tech meetup, we talk about bunch of these issues in our meetups.  

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