Following on from yesterday’s post, here are some more tips on moving to the Valley:

Hiring a US team

Once your US company is in place and ready to trade you’ll probably want to think about hiring.  Hiring in the US is broadly the same as hiring anywhere else – don’t hire people you might hate, make sure they can do the job, use your network, avoid recruiters as far as possible etc etc etc.

However, once you’ve found that dream candidate it’s not as simple as asking them to come in one day one and start coding / selling / whatever.  There’s a US employment contract, payroll and healthcare to consider.  Your lawyers (the ones that helped with the nasty company law) can provide you with the first, we used High Street Partners for the second and then had to figure out what the heck to do about healthcare.

Yep – healthcare.  Back in the UK it’s all too easy to forget that some nations don’t provide free national healthcare to residents.  But healthcare in the US is a big deal and even if Obama gets his way it’s going to be a long time before you can forget about factoring this cost into your budget.  US employees will expect healthcare (with vision and dental cover) and you should expect this to cost around $500 per month.  That’s at least $500 per employee per month (plus more if you’re covering spouse and kids) on top of the above-average salary you’re likely to be paying in the Bay Area.  That Silicon Valley office ain’t looking quite so cheap now, huh?

Working over there

Fact: it’s very naughty to come to the US and work without a visa.  You are allowed to stay for up to 90 days, do business for your foreign company (partner meetings, client meetings, board meetings, conferences) and perhaps take a holiday.  But you absolutely can’t work for a US company.

If you want to work for your newly formed US company you’ll need a visa.  And, like setting up the aforementioned company, this is a paperwork-intensive process where one slight error will void your application so you’re best off finding a specialist immigration lawyer.  There are several options for your visa but (in our opinion) the best in terms of the time-to-apply / time-you’ll-be-allowed-to-stay ratio is the L-1 intercompany transfer visa.  Expect to wait at least a month and a half from when you first submit to your interview at the US embassy (unless you pay $1,500 for some kind of Easyjet-style speedy boarding pass, in which case you’re looking at 15 working days) and bear in mind you have to be outside the US to apply and receive your visa.  Entering the US during your visa application is technically allowed but frowned upon so if you are travelling make sure you have proof that you’ll be leaving the country again shortly, a copy of your application and something proving that you are indeed employed by a non-US company and are just visiting for meetings.  Not to work.  Oh no.

What next?

Um, frankly – I don’t know.  There’s an awful lot to do in terms of hiring more staff and growing our presence. I’ll blog about that stuff in the next couple of months.  Stay tuned!

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