Work visa in the USA
February 20, 2012 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Can I apply for a visa to work with a company that I create in the USA?

I'm currently a PhD candidate and will be finished my studies this summer. I'm planing on starting a company with three other people (two who are from the US) and one who is from Europe. We are considering forming a C-Corp which allows non-residents to be involved.

I don't fully understand what visa options I should be considering, or the time-spans involved. I currently have an F-1 visa, and have not applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT). I'm quite flexible with my travel/work plans so it's not a problem if I need to spend time outside of the USA while sorting out these arrangements, but I'm not sure which visa types I should be reading up about. For example, can the company that I create, apply for a work-visa for myself?

(I am planning on getting legal advice for this, but I'm mainly curious about what types of options I should be considering as I'm unfamiliar with many of the visa types and restrictions.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Since you will certainly be wise enough to employ competent legal counsel to advise you on the formation of the corporation and to draw up the necessary corporate formation documents, bylaws, and whatnot, this is a question that is best addressed to that counsel. I would strongly recommend that, in seeking out an attorney to handle this matter, you be sure to hire one from a firm that also has a strong corporate immigration practice. I am not your lawyer, this is not legal advice.
posted by The World Famous at 9:47 AM on February 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have dealt with BCIS both with a lawyer and without a lawyer. Without a lawyer ended in deportation of my loved one. With a lawyer ended with citizenship in 3 1/2 years for another. Get a lawyer. Don't even bother thinking about this stuff. Seriously. Hire a lawyer and let them figure it out.

MeMail me if you want the name of my awesomely effective and efficient immigration lawyer (in Miami).
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:21 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

One option to bring up with your attorney might be an immigrant investor visa (EB5).
posted by *s at 10:54 AM on February 20, 2012

I am planning on getting legal advice for this, but I'm mainly curious about what types of options I should be considering as I'm unfamiliar with many of the visa types and restrictions.

The plan to get a lawyer to deal with this is an excellent one. An immigration lawyer should be able to assess your personal circumstance and advise you on the best course of action as it pertains to particular types of visas.

But, you want a good lawyer for this. You do not want to skimp and just go to the lawyer down the block. What I advise is to network with your school's alumni and find (hopefully) another PhD student who also applied for a visa after having been awarded his degree and get an attorney referral that way.

Failing that, go to the closest big city to where you are located (meaning > 1 million people) and call the largest/most prominent law firms and ask them where they send their clients with immigration issues.
posted by dfriedman at 11:09 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Obviously, you should check with a lawyer -
but one thought to consider is the exceptional alien exception.

aliens with exceptional talents are given preferential treatment when applying for US Visas. Your lawyer can research your specific case.
posted by Flood at 2:00 PM on February 20, 2012

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