Do we need a visa to explore the US market? – TechCrunch

Here is another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers questions related to immigration on working in tech companies.

“Your questions are vital for disseminating knowledge that enables people around the world to cross borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie alcorne, a lawyer specializing in immigration from Silicon Valley. “Whether you are in human operations, founding or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.

TechCrunch + members have access to the weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use the promo code ALCORN to purchase a one or two year subscription at 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My husband and I are planning to visit our daughter during her spring break. (She is an F-1 international student at an American university.) Between spending time with our daughter and sightseeing, we would like to explore the possibility of expanding our business in the United States.

Do we need a special visa to do this?

– Multitasking mom

Dear multitasking,

Thank you for contacting me before your trip! One of the most common mistakes founders make is doing business in the United States on a tourist visa. I mention this and a few other situations in my podcast episode on immigration traps startup founders should avoid. Doing business while having visitor status may compromise your ability to live and work in the United States or to enter the United States in the future.

To answer your question, yes, you will need either a B-1 Business Visitor Visa Where ESTA (Electronic system for travel authorization) Visa waiver program if you are not a citizen of Canada or Bermuda. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need a visa to visit the United States for certain business visitor activities for less than 180 days.

A composite image of immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie alcorne (Opens in a new window)

Before we dive into the details of B-1 visas and ESTA, the visa waiver program, when it comes to business, let me just say that it is never too early to meet a immigration lawyer to discuss your long term goals and immigration options. . I recommend international founders like you and your husband to speak with an immigration lawyer before you even make your first business trip to the United States.

Immigration issues will be important to both of you and any international talent you hire if you decide to grow your business here. Also, your reasons for coming to the United States, what visa you get, what you tell U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers when you arrive in the United States, what you do while you are in the United States and when you leave them could all affect future visits or stays in the United States

B-1 Business Visitor Visa

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