Here is another edition from “Dear Sophie”, the advice column that answers questions related to immigration on working in technology companies.

“Your questions are vital for disseminating knowledge that enables people around the world to cross borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie alcorne, a lawyer specializing in immigration from Silicon Valley. “Whether you are in human operations, founding or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.

Extra Crunch members have access to the weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use the promotional code ALCORN to buy a one or two year subscription at 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I manage people operations as a consultant in several different tech startups. Many have employees on OPT or STEM OPT who were not selected for this year’s H-1B lottery.

Businesses want to keep these people, but they are running out of options. Some companies will try next year’s H-1B lottery again, even if they face long odds, especially if the H-1B lottery becomes a salary-based selection process next year.

Others are studying O-1A visas, but find that many employees do not yet have the experience to meet the qualifications. Should we be looking at Canada?

– Silicon Valley specialist

Dear specialist,

That’s our goal: to find creative immigration solutions to help U.S. employers attract and retain international talent and help international talent realize their dreams of living and working in the United States.

I have written a lot on how American tech startups can keep their international team members in the United States. One strategy is to help startup employees qualify for O-1As. Another is to get unlimited H-1B visas without lottery through non-profit programs affiliated with universities. Sometimes applicants return to school for masters that offer a work option called CPT, or hands-on curriculum training.

A composite image of immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie alcorne (Opens in a new window)

But sometimes companies end up deciding to move some of their international talent to Canada to work remotely. Recently, Marc Pavlopoulos and I discussed how to help US employers and international talent in my Podcast. Through its two companies, Syndesis and Path to Canada, Pavlopoulos helps both American tech employers and international tech talent when they or their employees run out of options to immigrate to the United States. He most often assists US tech employers when their current or potential employees are not selected for the H-1B lottery.

Through Syndesus, a Canada-based remote employer – also known as the Professional Organization for Employment (OEP) – Pavlopoulos helps U.S. employers retain international tech workers who have run out of options visa or green card that will allow them to stay in the United States or those born in India who are fed up with decades of waiting for a US green card. U.S. employers who do not have an office in Canada can move these workers to Canada with the help of Syndesus, which employs these tech workers on behalf of the U.S. company, sponsoring them for a Global Talent Stream Canadian work visa.

Syndesus also helps US tech startups without a presence in Canada find Canadian tech workers and employ them on behalf of the startup. As the official employer, Syndesus takes care of payroll, human resources, health care, stock options and all matters related to Canadian labor law.

Pavlopoulos’ other company, Path to Canada, is currently focused on connecting international engineers and other tech talent working in the United States, including those whose OPT or STEM OPT is exhausted – who cannot stay in the United States to find employment in Canada, either with a Canadian company or in the Canadian office of a US company. These employees are granted a Global Talent Stream work visa and eventually permanent residence in Canada. Pavlopoulos intends to expand Path to Canada to help tech talent from around the world live and work in Canada.

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