Dear Sophie, How can I return to the United States as a founder?

Here’s another edit from “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.

“Your questions are vital to spreading the knowledge that enables people around the world to cross borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people operations, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one or two year subscription at 50% off.

Dear Sophie,

I lived and worked in the US on an L-1B for a year, then switched to an H-1B for 2.5 years before returning to India (where I am a citizen) and founding a new company.

Now I want to go back to the United States to raise funds for my startup. What are my options for returning to the US as a founder?

— Fast Moving Founder

Dear Fast Moving,

Congratulations on launching your own company and taking the step of returning to the United States to expand your startup and secure investors! I recommend working with an immigration attorney to determine the best options based on your long-term goals, as well as a corporate attorney to discuss the best structure for your new company’s US entity to make it attractive to investors. Most US investors prefer to invest in a US-based parent company that is a Delaware C corporation.

Depending on the nonimmigrant visa you are seeking, you may be able to avoid having to go through an in-person consular interview until later this year, since you went through the interview process for your L-1B Transferred Skilled Worker visa. Inside the company. . The US Department of State extended the visa interview waiver program until the end of this year. Consular officers have the discretion to waive the visa interview requirement for certain work visas such as the O-1A and H-1B if the beneficiary was previously issued a visa and has never been denied one. Unfortunately, the L-1 visa interview cannot be waived.

You have a few visa options to return to the US as a founder, so let’s get started!

A composite image of immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a TechCrunch logo background.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak/Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

B-1 visa

If you want to establish your new company’s US entity, find office space, or meet with potential investors, you can do so with a B-1 business visitor visa. The B-1 will allow you to enter the US and stay for up to six months. However, you cannot do any work while in a B-1. Your immigration attorney can tell you what activities are allowed.

When you arrive in the US, be prepared for the US Customs and Border Protection officer at the airport to ask what business you plan to do during your stay.

While in the US on a B-1, you can change your status to one of the visas below without leaving the US.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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