Currently operating a very small, early-stage startup. Just received first round of seed capital and looking to expand operations this summer. I have been looking for a developer (employee #2) to bring on by May. I found a really sharp, qualified candidate who has seven months left on his student visa before having to return to China. I would like to offer him the position but as a small start-up I do not necessarily have the extensive funds and legal resources to be able to guarantee his visa.
What would be my best course of action in this situation? Are start-ups generally allowed to sponsor work visas or is this a lost cause?
Thanks in advance, any advice is greatly appreciated.
I would estimate an H1-B would be between $2500 and $5000 (not including legal fees), but you would have to do it early since the processing takes so long and they run out of them through the year. They start accepting applications on April 1 for the fiscal year that starts on October 1. So April 1, 2011 you can send an application for the pool of 65,000 H1-Bs that start on October 1, 2011.
I don't believe the fact that you are a small company makes any difference on whether or not you can sponsor a visa (at least I never had any issues). It typically comes down to money, time and a bit of luck.
Speak to an immigration attorney. Depending on which country your developer is from and what line of business you are in there may be options other than an H1-B (e.g a TN visa, J1 or even an E2 investor visa). In addition to legal options, the attorney should be able to advise you on cost as well. It will definitely be in the thousands of dollars.