Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.
My co-founder and I were both laid off from Big Tech last week, and it’s the kick we needed to go all-in on our startup.
We’re both first-time founders, but my co-founder needs immigration sponsorship to maintain status with our startup.
Do we look at an O-1A in the 60-day grace period? Thanks!
— Newbie in Newark
However, there are a lot of ways that you and your co-founder can take to successfully navigate the layoff, the grace period and sponsorship at the new startup. Here’s how:
The 60-day grace period is discretionary. We advise conservatively that the grace period begins from the date of termination, although some laid-off individuals will continue to get paychecks for many months. Many of the layoffs are public and WARN Act notices are issued, so the Department of Homeland Security is on notice.
An O-1A is particularly advantageous for startup founders, because it can be sponsored by an agent for an itinerary of services, including advising other startups for equity, being a venture scout for a VC firm and getting paid as a contractor for speaking engagements in your field. Founders born in India or China are subject to the green card backlogs for individuals, and the O-1A can be a great stepping stone to qualify for and self-sponsor the faster EB-1A green card pathway.
For either an H-1B, TN, E-3 change of employer or a change of status to O-1A, you should be aware of the importance of setting up your company to successfully sponsor your co-founder and other hires for visas and green cards while also attracting funding from investors.
Dear Sophie: My co-founder’s a green card applicant who just got laid off. Now what? by Ram Iyer originally published on TechCrunch