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SXSW V2V 2014—How Not to Get Deported: Hacking a Startup Visa


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This presentation was given by Craig Montuori at SXSW V2V in 2014. It took a founder-focus and went through tips and tricks on how to manage the US immigration system. Founders often get treated suspiciously, due to their new companies not providing the track record used by government bureaucrats, so they should know what generates red flags and how to present themselves in a way that minimizes the difficulty the immigration system will put them through.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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SXSW V2V 2014—How Not to Get Deported: Hacking a Startup Visa

  1. 1. How Not To Get Deported: Hacking a Startup Visa Craig Montuori Founder & Executive Director PolitiHacks
  2. 2. Are you an immigrant entrepreneur who was…? • Educated at a US College or University? • OR cofounding a company with an American? • OR seeking to raise ≥ USD 100k? YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE
  3. 3. Meet Hoa Won $34,000 in student startup competitions— Would have been deported if she dropped out for her company
  4. 4. Visa Status Quo
  5. 5. Startups don’t follow the well traveled road
  6. 6. United States Government… Does
  7. 7. 92 Pathways to a Visa
  8. 8. But a Startup Visa Ain’t One
  9. 9. What’s Wrong Now?
  10. 10. H-1B
  11. 11. O-1
  12. 12. …but we use O-1 anyway
  13. 13. Just squint a little (with a good lawyer)
  14. 14. So… How do immigrant entrepreneurs get visas? They don’t! …except through hacks.
  15. 15. Some breakage may occur when hacking…
  16. 16. …but can be fixed, with some elbow grease
  17. 17. Can’t Put Everyone on World News with Diane Sawyer
  18. 18. …Not All Happy Endings
  19. 19. Problems We Face
  20. 20. Wasn’t I working on a company?
  21. 21. And need money to eat, keep my venture going?
  22. 22. H~uh, but I didn’t think I was a criminal
  23. 23. Aurora Chiesté Story
  24. 24. So what works?
  25. 25. Consult a lawyer!
  26. 26. …but pick a 10x lawyer
  27. 27. Consult your network for recommendations
  28. 28. Do your research: Visa Choice
  29. 29. Common Visa Options • O-1 (difficulty in qualifying) • L-1 (time issues) • E-2 (certain countries) • B-1 (limitations) • EB Green Card (many years wait)
  30. 30. Have visa option elimination questions
  31. 31. Understand Who Decides, How They Think
  32. 32. Expect suspicion
  33. 33. Minimize foreign travel
  34. 34. Avoid startup community jargon
  35. 35. NEVER SAY “HACK*”
  36. 36. System is clean— not perfect
  37. 37. Breaking out of failure modes
  38. 38. Thank you! Questions?