For the past year or so, I have been working on a US-based startup from my home country (UK). I am in charge of all things technical, ie: website, software development, design, etc...
As the company has now received investment, I need to travel to the US in order to work with my colleagues in person. As I am a co-founder and shareholder in the startup, it is imperative that I now work in person, rather than over Skype/etc... However I am unable to figure out which visa I should apply for. Here's why:
- I am a UK citizen (born and bred in the UK. I lived here my whole life), so I could apply for an ESTA. However an ESTA only allows you to perform certain business activities such as signing contracts. I need to be able to sign contracts and work in the US. Also I will most likely have to stay for longer than 3 months at a time.
- I could apply for a B visa, however that does not enable me to work in the US.
- I can't apply for an H-1B visa, as I don't have a degree. After I finished school I did study at the university for a while. However I ended up dropping out mid-way (I was bored and wanted work on my software development projects).
- I can't apply for an L1 visa, because our startup is based in New York. It has no division in the UK.
- As I am not an investor, I cannot apply for an E2 visa. I have spent a few grands on certain technical expenses, but that does not classify as an investment, nor is it anywhere near the $100k minimum investment requirement.
The things I want to work on while in the US:
- Sign legal contracts.
- Have meeting with investors.
- Work on all things technical (develop the required company software, work on databases, etc..).
- Work with colleagues on business side of things (as well as technical) - meetings, presentations, conferences, marketing, etc...
A few things to note:
- I am not interested in migrating to the US. The UK will always be my home, I am purely traveling for business.
- The startup has been established and is a legal private company in the US.
- Should the company become profitable, I will earn money via dividends (or by selling shares), as I am a co-founder and shareholder. I will NOT be a paid employee.
- I may be paid for travel/living expenses (initially), ie: travel costs, hotel/Airbnb rent, renting a car, etc... (I would either be paid directly, or the costs could fall under "company expenses", depending on what the US visa permits).