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.

LINKED: Working in USA, for a USA company, temporary without a green card?



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.


  • 2
    Welcome to Travel SE. Unfortunately this seems to be the wrong board, there is an Exaptriates SE for long-term relocation.
    – o.m.
    Nov 18, 2017 at 11:47
  • I believe you can actually spend 10 days a month before becoming a tax resident under the substantial presence test because you only count 1/3 of the days in the previous year and 1/6 of the days in the year before that.
    – phoog
    Nov 18, 2017 at 12:13
  • 2
    Could you mention your citizenship(s)? There are a handful (Canada, Australia, ...) that provide additional options.
    – Dennis
    Nov 18, 2017 at 17:44
  • 4
    Unless the employer is a university, they submit an application in April immediately when it opens. A lottery is held. If the application is picked, it's processed and the earliest you can start working is October.
    – mkennedy
    Nov 19, 2017 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


Congrats on getting that offer!

The process is murky indeed. The earliest you can start, is October 01, 2018, if you are going the H1b route. H1b visas for 2017 are a done deal

I have posted the process here in a different answer What is the timeline for a H1B Visa consulate interview?

The timeline is like this:

Before April 1 2018, your prospective employer has an approved LCA (Labor Condition Application) thats for having documentation that you are not replacing an available US worker.

Next, your employer (ideally an attorney hired/contracted by your employer) will Fedex/UPS the H1b application packet to be delivered to USCIS on April 01, not a day before/after.

Based on the number of applicants, your application will be picked in the lottery of 65,000 H1b visas. If you apply with premium processing (if that option is provided by USCIS and your employer goes for that option), then you'll hear back in 15 working days. Once you win the lottery and you have the I-797 Notice of Approval, you can setup for a visa interview at the US Consulate by completing Form DS-160 (after paying the relevant fees).

Once you get the H1b visa approved at the consulate and have your passport stamped (the actual Visa sticker on your passport), you are eligible to arrive in the US and start working from October 01, 2018.

This may seem like a horrendous wait just to start working with this startup.


  • If you are a citizen of Chile/Singapore, then you are eligible for a different quita of H1b1 visa
  • If you are a citizen of Canada/Mexico, then you can work on TN Visa
  • If your employer is a univeristy, or if the startup is incubated in a university program (only certain universities), then your employer can file a cap exempt H1b for you.
  • I think there are a few other countries having a treaty with the US, and you can get a work visa based on certain citizenships.
  • If you are not born in India/China/Philippines, and if your employer is willing to let you work remotely and simultaneously file for your Green Card under EB2 or EB3, which involves a long process of finalizing your role responsibilities, advertising the role, interviewing candidates and filing for PERM, filing for I-140, and then getting a permanent work auth (costs more $$$, probably around $10k to $15k), you may actually get a full permanent work authorization in 12 to 16 months, with no hassles of H1b uncertainity / lottery.

Hope I answered your question! As usual, I'm not a lawyer, and this is not legal advise. You and your employer should handle this with the help of an experienced Immigration attorney/lawyer.

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