Founder Immigration Issues: Answers to Your Pressing Questions

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Information about Founder Immigration Issues: Answers to Your Pressing Questions
Business & Mgmt

Published on March 13, 2014

Author: serottelaw



Information on U.S. visa types available to immigrant entrepreneurs, in particular student immigrant entrepreneurs. Includes a general overview and immigrant entrepreneur case study examples.

Founder Immigration Issues – Answers to your Pressing Questions Stanford Graduate School of Business Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Foreign Student Entrepreneur

Opportunity for Valuation Creation? $10 million or ZILCH? If my visa expires and I have to leave the U.S., there goes my $10 million!

Content • Permissible Business Activities for F-1 Students • Visa Options for Foreign Student Entrepreneurs • Transitioning from School to Start-up • How we help Foreign Entrepreneurs • Conclusion • Questions & Answers

Permissible Work for F-1 Students… • Purchase or incorporate a business • Conduct market and other research • Hold and attend meetings • Develop products, goods or services • Raise money through presentations, and negotiations to fund your company • Negotiate contracts • Consult with business associates • Attend scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars • Be a member of a Board of Directors

…but NOT these! • Hire and direct employees • Manage operations • Order inventory • Sign company checks • Be self-employed • Perform daily, routine business activities

Visa Options for Foreign Student Entrepreneurs • OPT/CPT • H-1B Specialty Worker • TN NAFTA Professional – Canadian and Mexican citizens • O-1 Extraordinary Ability • J-1/H-3 Trainee • E-1/E-2 Treaty Trader/Investor • L-1 for a new office/acquisition • EB-5 Green Card for investors

From Student to Immigrant Entrepreneur • Extend your F-1 visa with OPT or CPT • If OPT/CPT are not options and if you’re not funded, look for a job that will sponsor you for a work visa (H-1B, TN, O-1, H-3) • Once funded, change your visa from a work visa to an entrepreneur visa (E-2, L-1) • Grow your company by hiring U.S. workers or foreign workers (E-1, E-2, L-1, H-1B, TN) • Once your business is solid, explore opportunities for permanent residence (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, marriage) • If you have the means to invest $500,000 or more, you may be eligible for an EB-5 Green Card

From School to Start-up Example 1 – Graduated from Stanford with Bachelor’s degree – Business could not initially support H-1B prevailing wage – Filed H with “friendly” established employer – Start-up funds raised, business growing, applied for E-2 visa – Hired both U.S. and foreign-born employees, including people from her home country (E-2 visa) – Must maintain control (50%) over U.S. company

From School to Start-up Example 2 – Entrepreneur bought a winery including vineyard, production and retail – Owned 38% – E-2 visa best option, but needed a 50% ownership – Partners were not willing to give 50% control of the whole business – We split the company into two parts, growing and winemaking, and tasting and retail – His partners were willing to give him control over the retail and tasting business with shared profits – Secured E-2 visa

From School to Start-up Example 3 – Graduate from Harvard (he was not accepted to Stanford) – Starting a new business in the U.S. – Did not have 50% and his Stanford partners didn’t want to enter into a voting trust agreement! – This meant he could not get an L-1 or E-2 visa – However, the company was well funded and could pay the prevailing wage for H-1B visa. – Need an Employment Agreement and Board of Directors in place in order to overcome USCIS “employer/employee” criteria – Secured H-1B

From School to Start-up Example 4 – 3 Stanford grads are starting a business, two from Canada (35% each) and 1 from China (30%) – An H-1B for the Chinese citizen is not available due to the Cap, Prevailing Wage, and timing – TN is not available for Canadians due to self-employment issue – Chinese citizen had a Canadian girlfriend and planned to marry…sometime in the future – Suggested to marry now, transferring Chinese citizen’s 30% interest to his girlfriend – 3 Canadians apply for E-2 investor visas as executives or managers – Chinese citizen gets E-2 derivative status and secures EAD to work for start-up

Thank You Michael Serotte 888-875-8110

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