What are potential issues arising if one cofounder is not a US citizen or permanent resident?

Yep, I would agree that the most probable issue that you’ll run into is the ability of the co-founder to work within the company. Starting it shouldn’t be a problem, but you definitely want to think about the role the co-founder will have in the company in order to establish the appropriate visa. A few options could include:

  • H1-B Visa—This one may be tricky because the co-founder will have strict limitations on involvement and ownership in order to be able to work for the company.
  • L1 Visa—This visa is appropriate if there is an affiliate foreign company that the individual has already worked at for a year. The person can come to the US for up to 5 years and must hold some sort of managerial role within the company.
  • E2-Visa—This is more appropriate for investors, but allows the individual to come to the country for up to 2 years. It also allows for unlimited extensions for 2-year intervals.
  • B1-Visa—This visa only allows the individual to come to the US for 6 months to participate in business-related activities such as meetings, research, etc. It does not cover anything considered as “productive work” within the business so there are quite a few limitations here that may not be ideal for a co-founder.

Of course, some of these options also allow for dual-intent which indicates that the person could also apply for a green card if that is their long-term goal. To best identify which option is right for your situation, you should consult an immigration attorney.

LawTrades may be able to help. We connect clients with the best lawyer for their situation. Our immigration attorneys are well-versed in this area of the law and are happy t help you identify the best options. Check out our website to learn more about our affordable services and flexible communication.