An immigration attorney has provided options for an Indian entrepreneur who wants to return to the US to raise funds. Sophie Alcorn’s advice column recommends several visa options for the founder who previously worked on an L-1B visa for a year before being granted an H-1B visa for 2.5 years. One option is a B-1 visa, which allows travel for up to six months to find office space, set up the business and meet with prospective investors. A drawback of this visa is that the holder cannot work while in the country.
Another possibility is the O-1A visa, for individuals with “extraordinary ability or achievement” in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. Eligibility requires a certain level of professional recognition, with criteria including awards and high salaries. In lieu of that, applicants can fulfil three of ten available criteria, such as authorship of scholarly articles or media coverage of their work. While the visa is for three years, it can be extended indefinitely.
The National Interest Waiver (NIW) visa, another option, is for entrepreneurs with an advanced degree or “exceptional ability” whose work will serve the national interest. The criteria for exceptional ability are the same as for the O-1A, and the need to prove one’s importance to the national interest can be a challenge. A further complication is that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services no longer provides a formula that lists the National Interest Factors to guide candidates, although previous applications have listed having ample funding and the potential to create jobs.
Finally, applicants could request an H-1B visa for entrepreneurs who meet the definition of speciality occupation, meaning they work in a field that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific area of knowledge. Only 85,000 H-1B visas are granted each year, however, and applications typically exceed that number, although lower demand this year amid US coronavirus restrictions has left many available. H-1B visas are normally granted for three years, and extendable for a total stay of six years.
All these visa classifications have different requirements, so Alcorn recommends having legal advice, noting “a great immigration attorney can help you put together a comprehensive plan that makes sense”.