Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Here’s another edition from “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that empowers people around the world to rise above the limits and pursue their dreams,” said Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”

BestFitnessBands+ members get access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; Use promo code ALCORN to buy a one or two year subscription with 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

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

Do we need a special visa for that?

— Multitasking Mom

Dear multi-tasking,

Thank you for contacting me before you travel! Conducting business in the United States with a tourist visa is one of the most common mistakes founders make. I mention this and a few other situations in my podcast episode about immigration pitfalls startup founders should avoid. Conducting business while on Visitor status may compromise your ability to live and work in the United States or enter the United States in the future.

To answer your question, yes, you will need a B-1 Business Visitor Visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESA) Visa Waiver Program if you are not a citizen of Canada or Bermuda. Canadian and Bermuda residents do not require a visa to visit the US for certain business visitor activities for less than 180 days.

A composite image of immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a BestFitnessBands logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

Before going into the details of B-1 visas and ESTA, the Visa Waiver Program, regarding business, let me just say that it is never too early to meet with an immigration attorney to discuss your long-term goals and immigration options. discuss . I recommend international founders like you and your husband speak with an immigration attorney even before taking your first business trip to the United States.

Immigration issues matter to both of you and to any international talent you hire should you decide to expand your business here. What’s more, your reasons for coming to the US, the visa you obtain, what you say to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers when you arrive in the US, what you do while in the US, and when you leave can all affect future visits or stays in the US

B-1 Business Visitor Visa

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