July 15, 2024
Ask Sophie: Can I get an O-1A visa to bypass the H-1B process? | TechCrunch

Sophie Alcorn, attorney, author and founder of Alcorn Immigration Law in Silicon Valley, California, is an award-winning Certified Specialist Attorney in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Sophie is passionate about transcending borders, expanding opportunity, and connecting the world by practicing compassionate, visionary, and expert immigration law. Connect with Sophie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Dear Sophie,

I’m working in the U.S. in the aerospace industry on a J-1 research visa. I want to pursue my own space tech startup, but people have mentioned I will have to get an export control license because of my immigration status. Could you explain what I need to be aware of? Any advice?

— Fastidious (Soon-to-Be) Founder

Hey there, Fastidious!

Thanks for reaching out to me with your timely questions! U.S. export control laws have been in the news recently, and the U.S. Department of Justice released an employer fact sheet on complying with export control laws. While the fact sheet focuses on how employers can avoid violating immigration laws and discriminatory employment practices, it provides a good background on export control.

In addition, listen to my chat with Chris Hearsey, an expert in space law and founder and CEO of OSA Consulting (OSA stands for Outer Space Activities). We talked about space law and what space tech startups should keep in mind. The startup and investor market for commercial space technologies is growing rapidly, so it’s important for international founders to be aware of the requirements.

Before I dive into your questions, let me provide a little context on export control, the J-1 educational and cultural exchange visa, and employment authorization. Remember: If you need personal legal advice, you should always hire an expert attorney.

What is export control licensing?

U.S. export control laws govern how technology, software, technical data and other materials are physically or electronically exported or shared with foreign countries or foreign-born individuals, including those working in the U.S. on valid work visas.

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