A US start-up is (touchwood) in the process of offering me a job, which would involve relocating to the USA.
It is a highly specialised job (Machine Learning, DSP, Audio engineering, ...).
They wish to start as soon as possible.
As the start-up comprises only three individuals (who are fully stacked with other tasks) I'm trying to help by doing some research on their behalf into the Visa process.
It looks rather thorny. I present my research below.
It appears as though I'm looking for a H1-B non-immigrant Visa, but one source says these are issued in April and generally have run out by September.
At time of writing it is mid-November. How long should I expect the process to take?
And if it turns out to be long process, would I be able to work from a different country and visit these people for say five days per month? One paragraph in the research below suggests that as long as I keep the total day count below 31 I am not considered a US resident for tax purposes.
Getting a visa to work in the US isn't easy, although it's a lot easier if you have a job that is relocating there or you have an offer of employment. If you want to work in the US you can apply for several types of visa. The H1-B non-immigrant visa is for skilled, educated individuals working for a sponsoring employer in specific occupations such as engineering, maths, medicine or law.
Finally, the green card entitles you to become a permanent resident. You can get a green card through a job or offer of employment, provided there aren't enough US workers who can do the job. If you don't have a job you could take pot luck in the annual green card lottery. Every year, 55,000 win permanent residence through the scheme. In 2010, more than 15 million people applied.
In other good news, you won't need any vaccinations. What tax will you pay? The moment you become a lawful permanent US resident with a green card you are liable to pay tax in the US on your total worldwide income. You will also be considered a US resident for tax purposes if you meet the "substantial presence test", which means you are in the US at least 31 days during the current year, and 183 days over the past three years. If you are a non-resident you will only pay US tax on the income you earn locally. There are currently six income tax brackets ranging from 10% to 35%. These are due to rise from the end of the year to between 15% and 39.6%, unless new legislation prevents it. Each state and local government has its own set of tax rules, which complicates matters. Remember, you may pay less tax in the US but there is no NHS, which means you could spend the money you save on private health insurance.
You need to clarify what sort of job it is so that people on the Forum can understand the visa that is being applied for. If it is an H1B visa (because you have a skills that no American has due to a specialism or labor shortage for your job type over here), then the visa can be fast tracked and processed in 15 days. That is the good news. The downside is all the information gathering and form filling that precedes the application. This can be done in days but mine dragged to 3-4 weeks, as letters of support had to be obtained from previous employers etc. There is also a limit to the number of visas, again, if H1B, so they need to get going quickly - the visa process opens in April and is predicted to reach its limit sometime midsummer, though it dragged out to Sept/Oct in previous years due to weakness of the economy. Finally, the H1B visa does not take affect until 1 October, so that would be the earliest that you could begin work on an H1B. Plenty of info online about visa types, info which you can source yourself - start with USCIS. The example I have given is H1B.
It can help if you have an employer willing to sponsor you, but this is extremely rare - unless you manage to find work with a multinational company and transfer to a US branch to gain entry to the country. The L-1 visa is an option for those within companies willing to transfer you to their US operation for up to five years. Employers looking to fill certain skilled positions can apply for H category visas. These include the H-1, for professionals and outstanding individuals, through to the H-2B temporary worker programme for seasonal workers, such as ski instructors. However, these are very limited in number and the application must be made by the employer rather than the individual.
http://www.usvisalawyers.co.uk/immig.htm All immigrant categories, except for ‘immediate relatives’ and ‘special immigrants,’ are numerically limited and annual per-country quotas are prescribed by law. This often has the result, particularly in the family-sponsored categories, that the prospective applicant must wait a long time between the filing of the immigrant visa petition and the issuance of an immigrant visa.
See: EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES