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Visa Options for Entrepreneurs and Recent Grads: H-1B Visa through Global Entrepreneur in Residence

In the absence of an official “startup visa”, and in lieu of the International Entrepreneur Parole Rule, which has now been postponed until March 2018, organizations and programs exist that help entrepreneurs from around the world establish their businesses in the U.S.  These programs are generally geared towards assisting international students who have developed a technology or innovation with launching a start-up in the U.S. that creates high-paying jobs.

H-1B Visa through the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program

Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (Global EIR) is an organization that helps international entrepreneurs gain access to visas to come to the U.S. to build their businesses and create local jobs by partnering with universities.  A university will sponsor a foreign-born entrepreneur for a H-1B visa (which is not subject to the H-1B visa lottery and quota) to work on campus to provide mentoring to students, review business proposals, or teach classes.  This is a tremendous benefit, as an H-1B applicant had a one in four chance of making it through the lottery in 2017 before the application could be reviewed by USCIS on its merits. While working for the university, the entrepreneur continues to build his or her business in the U.S.  After 6-18 months, this option could lead to an O-1 visa and Green Card.

The Global EIR currently has a presence in 13 colleges and universities across four states, including the following schools: University of Alaska, Anchorage; Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage; Babson College, Boston; University of Massachusetts, Boston; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Missouri, St. Louis; and San Jose State University.

Global EIR

Photo courtesy of https://www.globaleir.org

So What Exactly is an EIR?

An EIR (Entrepreneur In Residence) is a position found most often at a venture capital firm or a company, but can also be an individual employed by a college or university or a municipality.

The EIR serves primarily as an internal partner in the organization that can discover new business opportunities.  EIRs are an offshoot of the concept of “intrapreneurship” – the act of behaving like an entrepreneur within an organization – and can be a tremendous asset to the organization. Businesses benefit from an EIR who can manage equity deals, launch new brands and products, develop partnerships, and provide expertise and knowledge as an entrepreneur.

In a venture capital firm, an EIR is employed to create a new company that the VC firm will fund that is run by the EIR.  An EIR with specialized knowledge of a field or industry may be hired to research the market, develop an investment thesis, and either find a deal or write a business plan for a new company.

At universities with research laboratories, an EIR can help move the cutting-edge technologies out of the lab and start a company or transfer it to an existing company.  An EIR can handle issues like corporate form, licensing the technology, establishing the option pool, recruiting the team, and handling seed funding.

In the City of Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti launched an Entrepreneur in Residence program in 2014, in which entrepreneurs can find ways to make LA more innovative while developing policies to help entrepreneurs become successful.  As a result of the EIR program, the city started an initiative to bring entrepreneurs and manufacturers together to turn ideas into successful businesses that create jobs in manufacturing.

J-1 Visa for International Student Entrepreneurs

At colleges and universities, there is tremendous growth in entrepreneurship programs that support and mentor students in establishing start-ups.  As part of the trend of universities seeking to create on-campus hubs of entrepreneurship, some universities are utilizing the J-1 visa for international researchers and scholars to turn their innovations into successful businesses.

For example, Purdue University, through its business accelerator program, established a J-1 visa exchange program for international students and researchers interested in launching start-ups.  The J-1 visa allows the university to work directly with talented entrepreneurs to license innovations that they have worked on and create businesses that produce high-paying jobs within the state.

East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania expanded the scope of its J-1 visa exchange program to enable not only international students, but international entrepreneurs, to come to the U.S. for up to 5 years to develop new businesses.

Through university exchange programs, the J-1 visa is an option for international entrepreneurs who do not necessarily have fully developed ideas or venture capital.  It can be a viable alternative to the highly-competitive H-1B program, and the E-2 Entrepreneur Investor Visa which requires a major sum of startup capital and is restricted to applicants whose home country has signed a treaty with the United States.

Interested in learning more about the J-1 visa or the H-1B visa?

To find out if you qualify for the H-1B visa or J-1 visa, and how to complete an application, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (949) 798-6298; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

About The Grady Firm, P.C.

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This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney. 


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