Starting a dream venture is exciting enough, but the thought of relocating your startup in the U.S. can be exhilarating. But the stringent visa rules of the country can make things challenging for entrepreneurs aspiring to live the American dream.
Still, you need not give up because it is possible to achieve the aspiration if you take the right approach and find help from the right people. A seasoned immigration lawyer is the first person you will need to connect with to set the sails for the journey.
Additionally, you need to take a strategic approach to handle the long and complicated process of relocating your startup to the USA. Here are the practical steps that can carry your startup through and help it establish a strong presence in the land of opportunity.
Step #1: Understanding the immigration process
The preparation of immigration should start even before you recruit people for your startup. So good planning through the initial stage is the key to an easy move. Since you will need to deal with international job applications, there are three phases to be considered. These include:
Pre-recruitment: At this stage, you need to screen applicants to identify potential red flags like criminal records, former J1 visas, or H1B visas nearing the 6-year limitation.
It is always best to collaborate with an immigration lawyer who can go through the candidate resumes and filter the ones that wouldn’t cause any implications later.
During recruitment: As you recruit the right candidates, conduct a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether the applicant is the best option for your long-term strategy. The other alternative would be to fill the position with a local applicant at a lower cost.
Post-recruitment: Compliance goes beyond the new hire moving to the U.S. You need to file Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) that is meant to track the employee eligibility to work in the country.
This is something an entrepreneur should be extra cautious about because hiring an employee ineligible to work can land you in deep trouble. If you fill the form right, you would be protected even if the employee shares fraudulent forms.
An early start, along with proper awareness of visa eligibility, will keep your startup in a safe position and also prevent any penalties for flouting the norms.
It is also vital to have an immigration policy in place, which is something that startups often fail to address. A legal expert is the best person to help you in developing the policy and implementing it for the business.
Step #2: Choosing an experienced immigration lawyer
Perhaps the most important aspect of moving your new business abroad is securing reliable legal counsel that can help you with a smooth transition. Check your options and ask around for recommendations to get someone you can depend on.
A good Immigration Attorney would understand your business first and provide support for everything, from the application process to taxes and employment law issues. Ideally, they would ask questions and ask for your documentation before taking your case.
Working with a professional who specializes in startup immigration is a good idea because the cases may be a little more complex.
Step #3: Setting expectations
Once you submit the visa application, you need to set your expectations realistically. You can expect three possibilities in outcomes, namely, approval, denial, or a request for evidence.
Working with a seasoned attorney increases the chances of approval because they will make sure that you have all the supportive documents with the application in the first place. Even if the application does not get approved, there are chances of receiving a request for evidence rather an upfront denial.
Sending the requested documents immediately gives you good chances of approval in the subsequent attempt. Having realistic expectations from the start is vital. Also, you need to think about the alternatives if the outcome does not turn in your favor.
Step #4: Structuring your startup business for a smoother process
Even though you cannot influence the decision directly, some measures can enhance the chances of approval to a significant extent. The right corporate structure and ownership can make a lot of difference for some work-related immigration visas.
For example, with the L-1 Visa that allows employee transfers from abroad, you need to have a company structure in the U.S. Trusts and holding companies, on the other hand, will complicate the application. For E Visas, founders with 50 percent ownership in the company can expect the quickest processing.
Only an expert immigration attorney can give you the best suggestions in this context and create a structural roadmap that would make the approval smoother.
Step #5: Deciding the order of immigration
Another significant step for startups planning to relocate to the U.S. is the order of immigration. It is best to start with executives and sales and marketing team members in the first place.
Having executive immigration in place first is a good way to validate that your business has established leadership in the country and plans to build a team eventually. Taking along the members of the sales and marketing team is a good idea as the visa process may not consider them as essential employees at a later stage.
Generally speaking, you will need to prove that every employee that you are bringing along is an essential asset for the business so that you can obtain approval for their visa.
Considering the loads of paperwork and formalities that are a part of the immigration process, this isn’t something business owners can handle on their own. The best thing to do is to have a seasoned attorney looking after the process.
Apart from streamlining the paperwork and formalities, they can have the right advice at the preliminary stages so that you can boost the chances for approval of the visas of the team.
The sooner you have an expert on board, the better is your position. After all, this isn’t something you cannot compromise with because delays cause wastage of time and money and they are stressful as well.
Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of IdeasPlusBusiness.com. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
For questions, inquiries and advert placements on the blog, please send an email to the Editor at ideasplusbusiness[at]gmail[dot]com. You can also follow IdeasPlusBusiness.com on Twitter here and like our page on Facebook here. This website contains affiliate links to some products and services. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.
I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.