This Article is going to make you an expert on all entrepreneurial business visas and green cards. Immigration for startup founders and their employees have become an archaic, fear-driven and fragmented space. But it’s not as bad as it seems.

Below are the best tips immigration attorneys don’t want you to know.

There are 3 categories you can go with:

  1. Employment: Move your J-1 to a Green Card or trick the H-1B lottery to have 80% chances instead of 30%

  2. The O-1, EB-1 & EB-2 extraordinary ability: How hard are you willing to work in order to qualify?

  3. Become an “investor”: Investment visas range from $50,000 to $500,000 and up. To get started $20,000 is what you really need to spend.

Immigration for Startup Founders

How to trick the H-1B lottery and double or even triple your chances to win it?


A popular well-known visa that has been on the news lately is H-1B Visa. It can be given for a few years and then can be extended for a few more.

I’ve always thought that H-1B is a big risk. Why spend time and effort when all you have is a 30% chance of winning?

A cold fact: Only 30% of people who applied for H-1B last year actually got it. We have found a way to increase your chances. Apparently, it’s totally legal to submit the H-1B visa 3 times with 3 different employers. Yes, all you have to do is find more companies that would accept your H-1B sponsorship. Once you are approved for one company, you can always “switch employer” and move your ready-made approved H-1B to the employer of your choice.

Submissions for the H-1b visa occur between January and April. The results usually arrive by the end of May or early June. Try to find an employer before the season ends. Be sure to file your visa request by April 30.

From J-1 Visa to Green Card

J-1 Visa is still valid although all the latest media has reported it dead.

J-1 visa is used for trainees and interns, but in reality, it gets young inexperienced people a way to work for 12 – 18 months. With a good immigration attorney, almost anyone can get a J-1 visa, but the problem with it is that after the 12-18 month period is over, you will have to leave the US.

A well-known trick to overcome the limitation of J-1 is to file for a Perm on the first day that you arrive at the US. A perm means a Green Card based on employment.

While a J-1 visa is given through a J-1 agency, the immigration authorities, USCIS, are a separate entity. Many immigration attorneys trick the system when they submit a perm to the USCIS although their customers just arrived in the US on a J-1 visa.

The BIG mistake entrepreneurs usually make is that they don’t file the Perm on time. The Perm takes about 18 months, which is great because, by the time your J-1 visa is expired, you can get a Green Card.

From no options to a full 18-month- work visa + a green card. Pretty awesome right?

To get the Perm you must maintain a good relationship with your employers. Only young startup founders will give a Perm to their employees while big corporations tend to forget how important this is for their foreign employees.

From J-1 Visa to Green Card

The special people visas: O-1A, O-1B, EB-1 and EB-2, NIW and how to qualify

In reality, anyone who has a great deal of experience in their field can get an O-1 Visa. O-1 is the most popular visa for startup founders and artists. All you have to do is find the evidence that will qualify you. To understand if you can qualify for an O-1 visa, go here.

In some cases, you can skip straight to EB-1 Green Card instead of applying O-1 Visa.

Although it seems that O-1A visa is so hard to get, the criteria of getting an O-1 visa are exactly the same as obtaining the EB-1 Green Card. The surprising thing is that for some entrepreneurs it is easier to get a Green Card than an O-1 Visa.

Immigration attorneys don’t want you to know this because they lose money if they get you a Green Card immediately. Why not get you an O-1 visa, later extend it, and only then get your EB-1 Green Card.

2 important facts:

  • O-1 visa does not let your spouse work in the US.

  • O-1 Visa requires a sponsor while EB-1 allows you to self-petition for yourself – no sponsor needed.

For some of the more educated immigrants like startup founders, with a proven track record or Ph.D., the option of EB-2 (NIW) is also doable to execute without an employer. All you have to do is prove that you are going to make America a better place. A professional & highly experienced immigration attorney will know how to prepare a case like that.

O-1A, O-1B, EB-1 and EB-2 visas

Investment visas: E-2 visa or EB-5? You don’t have to be a millionaire to get an investment visa.

With a small investment of $50,000, you can apply for an E-2 Visa. To be on the safe side, it’s actually better to invest $100,000. Investment of $100,000 is more likely to be approved.

You don’t have to invest all this money. You can start a company in the US, later open a corporate bank account and put that money into that account. The secret is that you only have to spend 20% of the invested funds.

This really means that with $20,000 you can get an investment visa. You can do this from your home country or as a tourist while being in the US.

Starting a company in the US, opening a bank account in the US and even getting a tax ID for your company – are options foreign startup founders have when they arrive as tourists or even in their home country. There is really no need to travel to the US to do all that. In addition, there is no need for a social security number in order to get started.

The recommended place to apply an E-2 Visa is from your home country. There are 2 options:

Get your E-2 from your home country- this is called “consular processing”

The second option is to apply for E-2 visa physically from the U.S. This is called USCIS processing. Consular processing is more recommended because usually the visa is granted for more years.

E-2 Visa Allows You to Bring 2 Essential Employees

E-2 Visa is great because it allows you to bring 2 employees (they are called “essential employees”) and these employees can come from your home country as well.

You should know that in order to get en E-2 visa, you must have a business plan tailored for immigration process. You must also know that when it’s time to renew the E-2 visa you will have to prove and show that you are creating jobs in the U.S.

A good immigration attorney will warn you about that and will try to find a solution to get you a Green Card before it’s too late.

There is also the investment visa for millionaires, which is called EB-5. I’m not going to write about it because I think it’s a bad visa. However, if you are not in the list of countries that apply for E-2 Visa and you have money, you should consider doing an EB-5, which is actually not a visa, but a Green Card.

How to open a new office in the U.S. and file for an L-1A Visa petition.

The entire explanation and checklist for L-1A new office can be found here.

2 important things to know before you start:

  1. Your company back at home must have more than 7 employees.

  2. It should exist more than a year and have tax returns that prove that the new US office can pay for itself.

The Import / Export Visa

For those of you whose trade is import or export goods, or even IP related services between your home country and the US, you should consider applying for an E-1 Visa.

To get an E-1 visa, you need to prove that you have established trade on more than a few occasions. You can start a small shipping operation, and if you do it several times over 6 months, you should be able to apply for an E-1 Visa.

This post is not a legal advice.