Does Very Early stage start-ups hire H1Bs


I was reading through this blog post and i totally agree and that is what I am trying to do.

Even though I want to start my own company in the future. 1st I want to work for a early startup for a year or two and again some experiences before that.

So here is my question Does a start-up, which is in its really early stage like just 5-10 people no HR team just devs and founders very minimal funding , hire international workers in H1B ?

Has any one got through this ? Kindly share your thoughts


Getting Started Startupvisa

asked Nov 23 '11 at 01:58
28 points

3 Answers


The bottom-line is that an HB1 visa is not designed to support working in a start-up environment .

There are elusive cases where it is rumored to have happened, but there are a host of reasons why it is extraordinarily difficult.

First: Read the answers to the similar questions:

  1. Question on using a HB1 to startup a company
  2. Question about sponsoring your own HB1 with your start-up
  3. Apply for a Visa to work with a start-up :
Second: Critical Points
  • The HB1 Visa is not "transferable". It is specific to the job. It is "transferable" in the sense of staying under the quote.
  • The start-up will need to apply for the HB1 Visa. They will need to meet all of the requirements for sponsoring an HB1 Visa
  • There is a limited number of available HB1 Visa per year. They are released in April for the following year. There are two quotas, one for the Advanced Degree Exemption, and then the general. The ADE quote is usually met quickly (and has been met as of this writing for FY2012). The general cap is now 85K and is met for the year usually by December/Janurary.
Third: Why is doesn't work
  1. The sponsoring company needs to reflect a stability in terms of financing, client-base and leadership that a start-up has a hard time showing.
  2. The sponsoring company needs to be paying a prevailing wage which doens't match the traditional start-up culture of paying lower wages for the option of being part of the upside
  3. The sponsoring company needs to show that the skills that are being obtained through the VISA are not available in the current labor market -- and we are in a recession where the current labor market has a lot of available talent.
  4. The timeline of availability rarely works for a "start-ups" ramp up human resource needs. You can start applying for the next years visas in April. For the following year. Once the quota has been met -- then applications are available for the next year. traditionally for the first four months of the year you can't even make application because the quote for that year has been met and the applications for the next year aren't open.
Forth: But Really In the end the real reason it is hard is because you have to use a immigration attorney to put together your application. You get on shot at it. It is vewry competative. It has to be done right. Immigration attorneys cost money. They don't tend to take stock options for payment. And when a start-up looks at the available cash and the chances of securing the HB1 Visa-- well, it rarely is a wise use of money.

Fifth: The Hope There is significant hope is that after the next election, the anti-immigration politicians will have lost a little political support and that bills associated with reforming the options and processes will be able to work its way through the legislative process. The current administration has proposed several additional Visa options which would allow entrepreneurs and those working with Start-ups to become part of the "job producing" class in the United States.

Again there are several question on here that ask and receive some good answers about this:
Here, here, here and here.

What to do? Here are three small ideas:

The first is focus on doing the job for the company that sponsored your residency in the United States. You are here under their sponsorship. Your visa is employment based. You lose your job and you will be flying home. I know that you know that. I know that is rough. it is also the reality of the situation.

The second is to explore option. If you have money there are several investor visa options to secure a green Card which would allow you freedom of choice in your employment and professional endeavors.

Find non-employment ways to gain the business experience you are seeking to develop prior to launching your own business. This may be through non-paid interships or securing mentors.

answered Nov 23 '11 at 07:23
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points


Normally startups would have no experience doing the necessary paperwork. Even if they got to an experienced lawyer, the process would take several months which for startups is an eternity - they want and must move quickly.

Also be advised that an H1B for a startup is a very risky adventure. If they collapsed, you would legally have just one week to find a replacement job (with somebody willing to do H1B transfer) or leave the country.

Short: H1B requires a stable company for your own safety.

answered Nov 23 '11 at 04:30
116 points
  • Thanks, neglecting the safety factor. And assuming the candidate already has a H1B would it take long time for the H1B transfer ? – User995487 12 years ago
  • From what I've heard weeks/months and with almost guaranteed success. You need to educate the company of your choice that it is not that difficult as initial request for a visa for a foreign person. – Fobo 12 years ago
  • Thanks I feel so much better now :) – User995487 12 years ago
  • @fobo The process for a H-B1 takes a couple months as you note -- and it is very calendar and quota dependent. The transfer allows you to by-pass the quota issues, but the sponsoring company needs to still meet all of the requirements for the particular job -- which is very difficult for a start-up. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago


If you really like the international talent, find a consulting(or contracting) company that would do H1B for the worker and you can hire the worker as contractor. Be very clear upfront what consulting company keeps as the cut, that you and the worker are clear about terms. This way there is less paperwork for you and less potential risk for the worker.

answered Nov 23 '11 at 04:37
Sonu Bansal
68 points
  • I'm a the guy with a h1b working for a big company looking to move to a startup – User995487 12 years ago
  • In that case, instead of taking this big risk, why don't you start or find a startup where you can work off hours for equity only. equity is no issues on h1b. Other safe option would be keeping 2 H1bs at same time. I have seen H1B not being issued if the company didn't have a minimum required revenue etc. – Sonu Bansal 12 years ago
  • what!! wait a min keeping 2 H1Bs @ the same time ? really is it possible ? – User995487 12 years ago
  • yes. I think as long as you keep description for position same, you would be fine. – Sonu Bansal 12 years ago

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