this is my first time on workplace so I will keep it as simple as possible.


I am a web developer who is currently employed in a full stack developer role (PHP, HTML, JS, jQuery, CSS, MySQL and Linux etc) which requires a Computer Science degree or equivalent experience in the United Kingdom. I am also born in the United Kingdom, with a full British citizenship etc.

I would say I have around 4-5 years experience in all the languages I know. I left school half way through this time to commit myself to my own business (which is registered in the UK as private limited company - Ltd.). The business is doing well and after doing that for 3 years, I thought I would apply to a few different companies because I was looking for a less stressful experience and adding some structure to my life, I just wanted to gain more experience and try something new in my life as well.

The company I now work for (been there a year currently) hired me as I said, into a degree level job and it pays well, however my real future belongs in the states. My friends, girlfriend and clients/business-partners of my own business are all in the states.

One of my closest friends/client/business-partner is born, lives and works in the states. He also has his own private limited company (an 'LLC' as it's abbreviated to in America). I've worked on numerous projects with him and I have developed a lot of his web-based software for his business and his clients. It's a good professional relationship we maintain.

The problem

I am going to move to the US, no matter which way I go about it; I'm going to get there eventually. But the right way to do it is through a H-1B visa with a US company hiring me on through a Visa Sponsorship Scheme. This problem is, I'm not sure what route I should go down.

Option 1

I work with the guy I mentioned above. He would have to structure his business to allow employees under his wing (just me in the beginning) and then apply for the forms to offer me a visa sponsorship and I would then apply and move over to the states and work with him to keep making a profit together. He would pay me a salary (due to how the visa sponsorship working) and I would effectively become an employee of his business.

Option 2

I look to apply for a company that I have no prior experience with (like everyone else does) and I try to get a job through this, it would most likely be in California as that is where most visa dev sponsorship are located. I would send my CV and hope to get a remove interview. If I become accepted I would then essentially relocate my life to perform that job.


Either option I go down is good for me, Option 1 is what I want to do but is significantly more riskier because we need to review and work out all the forms and business structure ourselves. But it would mean I could continue working the way I want and I would easier on me because I would live close friends that I can share an apartment with, so there is less risk in that sense and I feel would be more enjoyable.

Or I can hope to find a company that will accept my interviews and hope to give me a visa sponsorship, but it's a very competitive industry and I don't know the exact specifics of how likely I am to be even eligible for a H-1b visa. I know that Option 2 is safer, both financially and mentally. It's a job I would enjoy and my girlfriend (US born) would relocate to be with me no matter which option. Just with option 2 I wouldn't have the friend base that I have been working with all these years.

The Question

  1. Which option is a more realistic approach for me working in the United States?
  2. I want to move there ideally, March 2017, is that possible?
  3. What would you recommend I do?

I know this is a long post and I apologize for the heavy blocks of text, but it's a problem that is going round in my mind a lot over these past few years and I just want an outside opinion on my job plans.

  • 3
    I would suggest talking to an immigration attorney that has experience with clients emigrating to the US. S/He may be able to give you other options or pose questions you haven't considered. – Chris E Jun 24 '16 at 18:25
  • @ChristopherEstep That is something I haven't considered. I will do some research into that. Seeking professional advice is defiantly the right approach. – Luke Brown Jun 24 '16 at 18:30
  • @LukeXF, Welcome to the Workplace! Unfortunately this question is off-topic, as we don't answer questions about personal career decisions, like which job to take. That's something that would be better answered based on advice from people who know you personally. For information on what is on-topic here, check out our Help center. – David K Jun 24 '16 at 18:45
  • 1
    Whatever you do, don't try to 'game' the US immigration service. They're pretty unforgiving. You could try marrying your girlfriend (gives you a fasttrack through the green card system), and keep the UK company, operating it from the US, until you have permanent residence status with a right to work. – PeteCon Jun 24 '16 at 18:46
  • Is your friend willing to sponsor you for his business? For a better answer you may want to cut your question down significantly. Everything before THE PROBLEM distracts and doesn't contribute anything to the question. Good Luck! – JasonJ Jun 24 '16 at 19:45

As a US citizen who started his US life as an H1-B contractor, ket me tell you what is harder than it looks with your option A. Not every company who applies for a H1B slot from a minuscule quota, will be able to get it. The company who will sponsor your visa, had better have deep pockets to feed attorneys to be eligible to do such a thing and do it properly. It can be done, but it will cost you two quite a bit of money.

Option B is good but getting your foot into the door of a company who will hire you is going to be hard as you are nobody to them. And cosidering most of the H1B abuse is performed by Tata, Infosys, Cognizant and alike companies, based in India, they will only pay you the minimum they can get away with and from my experience with one of those companies, I don't advise you to take that route. You will most probably not be happy with the treatment and something goes wrong with their contract, they will abandon you like dropping a rock. How do I know you may ask ? Because I have lived thru it. I was lucky to find and employer to take over my H1B visa on the spot. Otherwise, the day your notice period ends (which usually is 2-4 weeks depending on company), which is the day you officially become unemployed, you HAVE TO leave the US.

Having said all of this and hopefully discouraged you not to take H1B visa route, if you are so gung-ho about coming and living on the left side of the Atlantic ocean, let me clue you in by 2 other ways:

Method 1 - L1 business visa

You can read all about it H-E-R-E or T-H-E-R-E

Basically, your business partner here in the US needs to take an ownership stake in your company. Then you become an employee of an international corporation and can move freely between two offices (within reason of course). The thing I am not too sure about how easy it is for a US citizen to own business in UK. You may want to consult to an attorney here. This methos is the more official but more expensive of the two I am going to suggest so read on.

Method 2 - TN1 Visa

This is a little trickier but in your particular case it should work. Again, you can read more about the allowances and restrictions of this visa type, H-E-R-E or T-H-E-R-E. This type of visa is also known as NAFTA visa, which allows some people from US, Mexico and Canada to be able to work cross borders, on temporary basis. By temporary I mean, 364 days out of every year. :) You just need to make one exit out of the US every 365 days. You can come back the next day.

You might asky how it applies to me. If I am not mistaken, Canada is still considered a part of British Commonwealth and as a Born UK citizen, you automatically are a citizen of Canada (also Australia and some other smaller countries). You just need to figure out how you can get a Canadian passport. I suggest you go to a Candian Consulate or equivalent near where you live and they can tell you the process.

In any of these cases, you do not have a chance to use some benefits of US government. Such as you can not vote. Actually on that end, with the two clowns from two parties in this election and probably several subsequent ones to come, I am not planning to vote neither. Also, you can not apply for welfare. Hopefully you will never need that. If you become unemployed, you will not be able to claim unemployment benefits (this is a little iffy but they will do anything to block your request). And all of these things you are not privvy of, you will still have to pay taxes to cover these things, as if you are eligible for them.

You mentioned a girlfriend living States-side. If she is a citizen or a green card holder on her way to citizenship, a marriage based adjustment of status request will catapult you into citizenship path. And you will be as miserable as the rest of us.

Hope this helps.

  • 2
    No - British Citizens are NOT automatically citizens of Canada. cic.gc.ca/english/Citizenship/rules/index.asp – PeteCon Jun 24 '16 at 21:20
  • 1
    I worked as resident IT person of Canadian Embassy/Consulate in Ankara and remembering seeing posters indicating if you are born in any one of the British Commonwealth countries, you are or can become a Canadian citizen with minimal effort. But this was Early 90's. So the rules might have changed since then. – MelBurslan Jun 24 '16 at 21:29
  • Also not in Australia, although any Australian citizen born before 1949 was automatically assumed to be a British subject. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Jane S Jun 24 '16 at 21:50
  • TN1 visa doesn't count towards time for residency either, although you'd be paying your taxes and what not, after 4-5 years you might be able to apply but through your own means since more than likely the company is not going to help you, theres a small chance but its way too small. Also you pay for this visa, so you're not sponsored. I've always seen it as the easiest and fastest course of action. – Just Do It Jun 24 '16 at 23:01

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