Want to attend an accelerator in the U.S.?
Whether you got into Y Combinator, 500 Startups, Techstars, SOSV, Plug and Play, or another accelerator, we’re here to help get you to the U.S. on time!
Exploring your U.S. immigration options early will pay off. You may already have the type of visa you need to attend your accelerator, but you could also have a few months of waiting for a visa appointment ahead of you. Regardless of your situation, looking into it now rather than later will give you peace of mind by knowing your plan ahead of time.
Attend an Accelerator on ESTA/The Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program (often used interchangeably with “ESTA”) is likely the easiest way for individuals from 38 countries to visit the U.S. if their visit is only for up to 90 days. You can apply online and then fly directly to the U.S. without having to attend a consulate appointment.
Attend an Accelerator on the B-1 Visitor Visa
The B-1 visitor visa (often referred to as the tourist visa) allows you to stay in the U.S. for up to six months. After 90 days in the U.S. on B-1, you can change your status to a work visa such as an O-1 or H-1B.
You will need to go to a U.S. consulate abroad to get your B-1 visa stamped; however, wait times for visa stamping vary greatly and change often. The U.S. consulate in your home country may have a wait time of a few days or over a year. You can check wait times on the U.S. Department of State’s website. We’ll discuss visa stamping appointments more below.
Attend an Accelerator on the O-1 Work Visa
The O-1A work visa could double as a short-term option to get you to the U.S. for your accelerator program PLUS a long-term option enabling you to work in the U.S. after your program ends.
While the O-1 visa application requires much more detail than the B-1 or ESTA application, the O-1 will allow you to work in the U.S. for up to three years, and you can apply for unlimited extensions after the initial three years. Having a U.S. work visa during your accelerator may pay off as well. It shows U.S. investors that you are serious about growing your company in the U.S.
Like the B-1 visa, you must go to a U.S. consulate to get your visa stamped before entering the U.S. on the O-1 (unless you are changing status from within the U.S.).
Visa Stamping Appointments for B-1 and O-1 Visas
For both B-1 and O-1 visas, you’ll need to go to a U.S. consulate abroad before coming to the U.S. Typically, visa applicants attend a visa stamping appointment in their home country, but sometimes the wait times are too long.
Some consulates offer appointments to third-country nationals, while others only offer appointments to nationals of the country where the consulate is located. To verify whether or not you can book an appointment, you’ll have to call the consulate.
You may also be able to expedite your timeline with a virtual appointment or emergency appointment. Some U.S. consulates allow individuals who have previously held a U.S. visa to attend a virtual visa appointment. However, virtual appointments still require you to physically drop off your passport and other documents at the U.S. consulate.
You may also be able to get an emergency appointment at a U.S. consulate. In either of these situations, you’ll need to contact the consulate directly as virtual appointments and emergency appointments vary between different consulate locations.
Still unsure what the best path forward is for you to get to your accelerator program? Connect with our immigration team now so we can get you to the U.S. in time!