What are the professionals and cons of the E-2 and L-1A visas? • TechCrunch

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Right here’s one other version of “Pricey Sophie,” the recommendation column that solutions immigration-related questions on working at know-how corporations.

“Your questions are important to the unfold of information that enables individuals all around the world to rise above borders and pursue their desires,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration legal professional. “Whether or not you’re in individuals ops, a founder or searching for a job in Silicon Valley, I might like to answer your questions in my subsequent column.”

TechCrunch+ members obtain entry to weekly “Pricey Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Pricey Sophie,

We co-founded a startup in Colombia, and we’re desirous about opening a gross sales workplace within the U.S.! I might be shifting, and my co-founder will proceed to run our engineering staff from Colombia.

I’m at present contemplating each the E-2 investor and L-1A govt visas. What are the professionals and cons of every?

— Brave Colombian

Pricey Brave,

What an thrilling time and alternative for you and your staff! Congratulations in your U.S. growth and for all the expansion that obtained you to this stage. These visas are two nice choices for startup founders to maneuver to the USA to increase their companies.

Let me begin by giving an summary of each the E-2 visa for treaty buyers and the L-1A visa for intracompany transferee executives and managers. The visa purposes for each are closely scrutinized by immigration officers, so I like to recommend working with an immigration legal professional to current a robust case.

E-2 visa

The E-2 visa supplies an incredible possibility for worldwide founders whose dwelling nation has a commerce and commerce treaty with the U.S. The U.S. Division of State maintains a list of treaty countries. Colombia and greater than 75 nations, together with Pakistan and Taiwan, are on the listing, however different nations equivalent to China and India don’t at present have the requisite treaties in place. The E-2 permits worldwide founders to dwell and work in the USA whereas investing substantial capital to construct a enterprise right here.

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

Picture Credit: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

For a founder to qualify for an E-2 visa as an investor or important worker, a minimum of half of the U.S. enterprise should be owned by individuals or corporations out of your nation of citizenship. This may get difficult for startups after a number of rounds of dilution from U.S. buyers. Nonetheless, in case you are forming a subsidiary of an already-profitable Colombian enterprise and never planning to boost VC capital within the U.S., that may not be a giant deal for you. Speak to a lawyer about your world company construction and your fundraising plans to verify.

Though the E-2 necessities don’t specify a selected minimal quantity of capital that should be invested into the U.S. entity, immigration officers search for giant, upfront investments in workplace area, gear, and stock, often within the $100,000 vary. Receiving a pre-seed or Sequence A spherical within the U.S. or one other nation may help streamline this portion of your case, but it surely’s not completely vital. Some founders have succeeded in qualifying for an E-2 with even a switch of valued mental property to their U.S. firm.

Whereas the E-2 doesn’t require a U.S. enterprise to create jobs sooner or later, immigration officers could take into account it to be marginal with out job creation, which might not bode properly for E-2 approval. Already having U.S. staff or having a marketing strategy that features hiring within the U.S. can help within the approval of your E-2.

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