How hard is it for a co-founder (EU-native, residing in EU) of a US-based startup to get a visa to live/work in the US?

You have a few options to choose from. 

While I understand that you are wanting to live and work in the US, you could start out by looking into the Visa Waiver Program that allows you to come to the US for up to 90 days for tourism or business. It could help you get things a bit more established before leaping into a visa application process. To qualify for this you’ll have to be from an eligible country, but since you are from the EU then you should be fine. Plus, you’ll have to meet the additional requirements.

However, a few things that are not covered include:

  • study, for credit
  • employment
  • work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • permanent residence in the United States

Again, this option would likely only be a good idea if you would like to get your business a bit more in order before making the big move.

A couple of visa options come to mind right off:

L1-A Visa—This is an option if you have a company established in your home country and are interested in establishing a child company in the US. However, you’ll have to be considered an executive within the company and you’ll have to provide proof of your existing company including proof of an office. I’m not sure if you have an existing company or not, but this could be a good place to start if you do. The visa is valid for up to 7 years and isn’t eligible for extensions after that. You’ll have to leave the country for a year in order to re-apply for L status.

E-2 Visa-This is known as the investor visa that allows you to come to the US if you place a “moderate” investment in a company. The process is considered fairly simple and fast so a lot of founders are interested in this option. The validity for this visa is up to 5 years with 2-year extensions available. Currently, there are not limits on the number of extensions so long as you meet the necessary requirements.

There may be other options available to you based on your credentials, but those would need to be discussed in more detail to determine eligibility. To focus on your best option, you should get in touch with an immigration attorney.

LawTrades understands the need for an awesome lawyer at an affordable rate. We can connect you with a qualified immigration attorney that can answer your questions and help you navigate the murky waters of immigration law. Check out our website and get in touch with us for a consultation.