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Dear Sophie: Can founders get visas in 2021 through DACA or other means?


Dear Sophie: Can founders get visas in 2021 through DACA or other means? – TechCrunch

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

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

Does the United States have a startup visa? If not, what are the best visas for startup founders?

If my friend is a Dreamer in the U.S. who is undocumented but wants to found a startup, is it possible?

—Cheerful in Chile

Hello Cheerful!

Much to be cheerful about for your friend today as DACA is back! DACA is “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” and it provides work permits for people who were brought to the U.S. as children. Some of the basics to see if your friend might qualify for DACA are if they were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012; if they came to the U.S. before they turned 16; and if they have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. USCIS announced that it is accepting first-time DACA applications, renewals and advance parole documents to travel in two-year increments. This is great news for many folks for whom the U.S. is truly home, who have been educated here or served in the armed forces, and who want to further contribute to the tech ecosystem and economy.

Besides DACA, what other options are there for founders to move to the U.S. in 2021?

To be clear: The U.S. does not currently have a startup visa (you can read more about it in my op-ed in the Times of San Diego). According to the National Foundation for American Policy, if the U.S. had established a startup visa in 2016, it would have created 1 million to 3.2 million jobs over 10 years. I’m doing all I personally can to contribute to the creation of the U.S. Startup Visa or possibly the resurrection of International Entrepreneur Parole as we look ahead to the Biden/Harris administration.

That being said, we have solutions, advanced information and creative options, some of which I can share here with you. Check out 7 of the Most Startup-Friendly Visas Explained. Coming out of COVID in 2021, here are the most common visas and green cards that work for many founders. As immigration law is very nuanced, often people contact me to find specific alternative strategies that better suit their long-term goals.

B-1 visa for business visitors

The B-1 is a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa that enables entrepreneurs to explore the U.S. market. Under a B-1 visa, a founder or entrepreneur cannot be employed in the U.S., but can come for a business trip. This means you should not do any paid or unpaid work for a U.S. entity on your trip. However, some activities for founders are OK, such as meeting with investors, negotiating contracts, interviewing and hiring staff, and establishing an office. A B-1 visa typically allows for a maximum stay of one year — six months under the initial application and a six-month extension. It’s usually best to spend less than half the time in the U.S. on B status to ease future entries.

Founders who are citizens of designated countries, including Chile, can qualify for the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) visa waiver program, allowing them to travel to the U.S. for business for 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa. ESTA cannot typically be extended or changed once you are in the United States.

L-1A visa for intracompany transferee managers and executives

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backstory and future with ‘Kings of Crypto’ author Jeff John Roberts”,”content”:{“rendered”:”

No industry better epitomizes elite tech opinion as blockchain. Ignored for years in its infancy, the industry received intense interest from investors, engineers and the public five years ago, generating some of the most deeply devout evangelists that have emanated from startups since the advent of the World Wide Web and the dot-com boom. Then, it all burned down, but a few companies made it through the flames, among them Coinbase.n

Coinbase today is still valued at a 2018 price of $8 billion, and is expected to go public in the coming months. Despite major controversies around its mission-focused policy and diversity, the company continues to lead the pack of consumer-oriented blockchain and crypto companies.n

That makes its origin story and rise all the more enticing. Jeff John Roberts, a staff writer at Fortune, has put together precisely that narrative in his new book “Kings of Crypto”, published by Harvard Business School Press. Itu2019s the story of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong and the dream of a crypto economy. Given all the recent discussions and controversies swirling the company and Bitcoinu2019s recent record-beating price increase, provides a deeper, more analytical perspective on a complicated subject.n

I sat down with Roberts last month to talk more about the company, the crypto industry at large and whatu2019s next as we head into 2021.n

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.n

t

ntt

ntttI think the most interesting story right now is that there is this tension because Wall Street and Silicon Valley donu2019t like each other.tttttntntn

TechCrunch: How did you get into this project and decide to write the book?n

Jeff John Roberts: Thereu2019s a lot of crypto books out there, some of them not very good, but I think thereu2019s kind of a first-generation series of books on the subject. Nate Popperu2019s “Digital Gold” is very good, and then the Wall Street Journal guys with “Age of Cryptocurrency“ is a really good explainer, so I was looking for a new way to tell the story. Focusing on a company is just sort of a narrative mechanism, since companies can be a good way to tell the story of a broader industry.n

I used Coinbase as a vehicle because a lot of the early stuff in crypto is hard to understand. I think itu2019s still true, but crypto canu2019t decide if it wants to be a subculture or sort of a mainstream technology and a lot of the early writings on it celebrated the quirky angles. So I tried to tell it as more of a general interest, “Hatching Twitter”-style business story and fortunately thereu2019s a lot of gossip and things in there to recount.n

How did you get interested in crypto originally?n

My own interest came about when I was at GigaOm. Back in 2013, there was a meeting in New York City in Union Square, an event called Satoshi Square every Monday at the little corner of the park. I went down to check it out, and what it emerged to be was a bunch of crypto anarchists selling bitcoin. Some of the other people there though were Wall Street traders in $5,000 suits, which left an indelible image for me. It was really funny watching that collision of cultures, with the mix of greed and counterculture.n

So it was during Bitcoinu2019s first splash into something close to the mainstream that I covered, and then that kind of dried up and went away, as it does, and then it came roaring back in 2015, 2016 and I covered the bubble. And now thereu2019s again been an uptick in interest. So my timing for the book wasnu2019t good in the sense of the pandemic (I got cheated out of my canapu00e9 launch parties) but my timing was good in that a lot of the prices are soaring today.n

Youu2019ve seen a lot in the crypto industry over the years, whatu2019s the most interesting storyline today?n

I think the most interesting story right now is that there is this tension because Wall Street and Silicon Valley donu2019t like each other, but for crypto, they need each other, and itu2019s been interesting watching them kind of dance and find a way to kind of bridge the two worlds.n

Bitcoin is forever promising itu2019s going to change our financial world, but realistically it hasnu2019t, but I think in the coming decade, blockchain really is going to start doing some needed stuff and so that kind of convergence of Wall Street and the Valley [is inevitable].n

Then there are also the big corporates coming in. Obviously Facebook with Libra, but Square and PayPal and Iu2019m sure that Appleu2019s going to get in this game soon because theyu2019re good at privacy, theyu2019ve got all the wallets and they presumably pay a shit ton in transaction fees, so I think thatu2019s the coming story and whatu2019s interesting to me. And then Coinbase sort of sits right kind of at the center of all that, so theyu2019re a good vehicle to tell that story.n

You chose Coinbase as one of the focus companies for the book. Why them?n

I mean, thereu2019s a lot of recent cultural stuff we can talk about, but it was interesting to me because going back to what we talked about earlier: Do you want to be a rebel in a subculture or do you want to actually make a difference?n

I think Coinbase was the first and the best at the latter, and Brian Armstrong, who even among many Valley CEOs is a weird dude, he saw early the need to make this mainstream. That tension goes on to this day in the crypto world u2014 and also within Coinbase u2014 between the purest sort of libertarian vision of holding your own wallet versus the practicality. I think Coinbase is very astute in seeing thatu2019s where things are going and building it out that way, building sort of the crypto version of online banking.n

So I think that theyu2019re always telling you, u201cWeu2019re the white knight of cryptou201d and so on, and then of course Andreessen Horowitz and Fred Wilson had a big role in shepherding it that way, but it was the right call and theyu2019ve largely executed, which I think is really interesting.n

What was it like building Coinbase early on? Were there some fun stories from that time?n



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