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,

My colleague and I work for a large tech company. We have an idea that we want to pursue for our startup. We’re both on H-1B visas. Our I-140 EB-2 green card petitions have been approved, but we’re waiting for our priority dates to become current for our green cards. How do we get our H-1Bs transferred to a new startup? Can our green cards be transferred to our new startup too?

— Emerging Entrepreneur

Dear Emerging,

Congrats on deciding to create your own company! I’ve got answers and options for you!

Given your new journey, take a listen to my compelling conversation with Miles Randle about his venture studio experience in helping founders navigate immigration. We shed light on how the visa and green card processes can affect how quickly founders reach successful startup milestones and the traits that contribute to a successful founder.

The short answer to your second question is unfortunately no, the I-140s for your EB-2 advanced degree or exceptional ability green cards are not transferable to your startup. Your startup will have to file a new I-140 to sponsor you for an employment-based green card or you will have to self-petition for an EB-1A extraordinary ability green card or EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) green card. However, your priority date will be “transferable.” And if you made it to the I-485 stage, you might have other portability options.

I recommend consulting an immigration attorney about transferring your H-1B and green card options that meet your plans and goals. An immigration attorney can work with you to determine the best strategy — and backup options — for you and your colleague to reach your dreams. Now, let’s dive in!

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