Do we need a visa to explore the US market? – TechCrunch

Here’s another version From “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working for tech companies.

“Your questions are vital to spreading the knowledge that will allow people around the world to rise above borders and realize their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you work in people operations, are a founder, or are looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d like to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members get access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; Use the promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription at 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My husband and I are planning to visit our daughter during spring break. (She is an international F-1 student at a US university.) Between spending time with our daughter and sightseeing, we’d like to explore the feasibility of expanding our business in the United States.

Do we need a special visa to do this?

– Multitasking mom

Dear Multitasker,

Thank you for contacting me before your flight! Conducting business activities while in the United States on a tourist visa is one of the most common mistakes founders make. I mention this and a few other situations in my podcast episode about immigration risks that startup founders should avoid. Doing business while in visitor status could jeopardize your ability to live and work in the United States or enter the United States in the future.

To answer your question, yes, you will need either a B-1 Business Visitor visa or the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) if you are not a citizen of Canada or Bermuda. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need a visa to visit the United States for some business visitor activities for a period of less than 180 days.

Composite image of immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background featuring the TechCrunch logo.

Image credits: Joanna Boniak / Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

Before diving into the details of B-1 visas and ESTA visas, the Visa Waiver Program, as it relates to business, let me say that it is never too early to meet with an immigration attorney to discuss your long-term goals and immigration options. I recommend that international founders like you and your spouse speak with an immigration attorney even before you make your first business-related trip to the United States.

Immigration issues will be important to you and any international talent you hire if you decide to expand your business here. Furthermore, your reasons for coming to the United States, what visa you get, what you say to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials when you arrive in the United States, what to do while you are in the United States, and when your departure may all affect future visits or stays in United State

B-1 Business Visitor Visa

Leave a Comment