Title: The Power of Networks and Navigating Visa Options for Startup Founders


Hatched by Glasp

Jun 28, 2023

3 min read


Title: The Power of Networks and Navigating Visa Options for Startup Founders


In the fast-paced world of startups, entrepreneurs often face the challenge of building a network from scratch. However, a popular strategy known as "come for the tool, stay for the network" has proven to be an effective way to bootstrap networks. Additionally, for startup founders looking to navigate visa options, understanding the requirements and available pathways is crucial. In this article, we will explore the power of networks and discuss the different visa options for founders seeking to move on from their current visa status.

Building Networks and the "Come for the Tool, Stay for the Network" Strategy:

One successful example of the "come for the tool, stay for the network" strategy is Instagram. Instagram initially attracted users with its innovative photo filters, which differentiated it from other similar apps at the time. By offering a unique tool, Instagram managed to capture the attention of users and create a community around it. This strategy demonstrates the importance of providing value through a tool or product to attract users and then leveraging that initial interest to build a network.

Navigating Visa Options for Startup Founders:

For startup founders, particularly those who have secured funding from investors, exploring visa options becomes essential. One of the quickest work visas to obtain is the O-1A visa. However, it's important to note that spouses are not eligible to apply for a work permit based solely on O-3 status.

Another possible option for entrepreneurs is the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP), which is available for those who have established their company within the past 18 months, raised a significant amount of funding from a U.S. investor or received government awards or grants. Maintaining at least 10% equity in the startup is also a requirement for this visa.

The EB-1A visa is another viable option for startup founders. This visa category has a faster processing time compared to others, making it an attractive choice. Additionally, the EB-1A category is current for all countries, according to the November Visa Bulletin.

For founders currently in the U.S. under E-2 status, filing for a Change of Status with USCIS might be worth considering. This allows them to transition to a different visa category to continue their entrepreneurial journey.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Research and Understand the Requirements: Before making any decisions, it is crucial to thoroughly research and understand the requirements for each visa option. This will help you make an informed choice based on your specific circumstances.
  • 2. Seek Legal Guidance: Navigating the complexities of immigration law can be challenging. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the visa application process.
  • 3. Plan Ahead: Visa applications often require careful planning and preparation. Start the process well in advance to allow for any unexpected delays or additional documentation requirements. Additionally, considering premium processing for a faster decision can be advantageous.


Building a strong network is vital for the success of any startup founder. The "come for the tool, stay for the network" strategy exemplified by Instagram showcases the power of offering unique value to attract users and foster a community. When it comes to navigating visa options, startup founders have various pathways available, such as the O-1A visa, International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP), EB-1A visa, or exploring a Change of Status. By understanding the requirements and seeking professional guidance, founders can make informed decisions to continue their entrepreneurial journey.

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