Sponsoring an H-1B Visa as a Startup Business

We already know this: the employees make the company. That’s for sure. How, though, do we find them? We put our ads out there, we have accounts on Careerbuilder, we contact recruiters with requests to help find the best possible candidates, and still we’re often left high and dry. It’s as if the supply isn’t as much as the demand, and in many ways, that’s true.

We have to search elsewhere. But where? This is where an H-1B visa might help, as we target the foreign market as such for employment in our companies here in the state. First off…

Sponsoring H-1B Visa

Can You Explain What an H-1B Visa Is?

Simply put, it’s the best way for companies and corporations to find professionals outside the country, hire them and sponsor them for legitimate residency in the United States. This ups the supply pool considerably when you think about it. You’ve got numerous foreign countries to consider.

If your demographic’s pretty low on the supply for, say, IT professionals, you might want to consider this kind of visa. Ensure, though, that the prospective employee has at very least a Bachelor’s or some equivalent experience. Once that H-1B visa has been finalized, you’ve got an employee — from another country, yes — legally allowed to work for you for a period of a maximum three years.

To make it even better — that visa can be renewed upon expiration for another three. Not only does that provide for you some readily available and reliable workforce, but it gives immigrants a chance at opportunity here in the States.

Petitioning Can Be a Trial, for Sure

You, of course, can make the process move a lot smoother than most others, especially with the signs of the times pointing to terrorism and the like. It is pretty difficult for immigrants to legitimately enter the U.S.

You do have to file for the petition yourself, as the CEO or employer. There’s no prospect for the foreigner to apply himself or herself. However, take note: there are only 65K potential H-1B visas that can be available every year by April 1st. Make the deadline. Think of the number of possible companies out there in the U.S., and you can safely surmise that it is a small number by comparison.

In fact, 6.8K of those visas are actually reserved for many immigrants from Singapore and Chile. Understand, too, that 20K additional H-1B visas are also available for more advanced workers holding Master degrees or PhD’s. The statistics show that more applications are actually filed than there are visas available, so do the math and get your foot in the door first. It ensures the best possible chance of you getting the right kind of employee immediately.

The process doesn’t stop with just an initial filing either. You, as the startup employer, have to file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor, and for good reason: this balances immigration with U.S. citizenship workforce, as we don’t want to limit our own in finding jobs. You might see these statements in an LCA:

  • Prevailing Wages

  • Similar Benefits

  • Favorable Working Conditions for Everyone

  • No Active Labor Disputes or Stoppages

Essentially, show that the position you’re applying for regarding the H-1B visa is necessary not only for your company but for the entire nation, and you have a terrific chance of it getting approved and finalized, which obviously is good news for the prospective immigrant looking for work in the U.S..

Make Sure You’re Verified as an Employer

Everyone would think that this is all about the immigrant employee. It’s not. You, as the employer, have to go through the wringer as well.

The USCIS, in fact, will evaluate your own establishment to determine if you have the revenue necessary to provide the prevailing wage. If you don’t, kiss your H-1B visa good-bye. You do have other pieces of evidence to show that you’re viable, to some degree, indirectly without even more than enough venture capital or income, such as….

  • A Drafted Business Plan

  • Established Employee Contracts

  • Company Office Space Lease

  • U.S. Tax Returns and Annual Reports

Get those in order, and even if you don’t have a whole lot of capital to go into the launching of your business, you just might qualify. Understand, though, that an H-1B visa may cost close to $4K, and that doesn’t include the best business lawyer attorney fees money can buy

To Make It Even More Interesting, Foreign Co-Founders Face More Complex Issues

Let’s say your company not only requires a certain employee, but also an actual founder who, believe it or not, doesn’t even live in the United States. What do you do? You file an H-1B visa. That applies as well.

It’s a bit more complicated, though, as we’re no longer talking about an employee, but about someone with authority to hire and fire others in the company in the country — as a foreigner. You can imagine U.S. governmental authorities can get a bit shaky about that.

It is a possibility, though, as all you would need to do is show the evidence to a USCIS that there is, in fact, a separate “board of directors” with your company responsible for a lot of the human resources necessary to run your organization. This, to some degree, takes a load off the responsibility of the ‘co-founder’ in question as well as holds the individual accountable.

One Other Thing to Understand….

All in all, you may have a very viable option. Keep in mind, though, this one important fact: it’s a business visa, not an immigrant visa. After the maximum six years of time, your employee — or co-founder — if desiring to stay in the country, must then file on his or her own for a true green card, becoming a real resident or naturalized citizen. That’s six years. Keep an eye on that clock.

The U.S. immigration system is what it is. But with the right tools, you can navigate it successfully and hope for the very best prosperity for your business. There’s an entire world out there aching for success. Tap into it. You never know what you might find.

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