Dear Sophie: How can I bring my brilliant friends from Guatemala to work at my startup?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

“Dear Sophie” columns are accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

I have some amazing former colleagues (who are also my friends) back home in Guatemala. I have a green card now, was recently laid off from my job, and am founding a startup through an accelerator program.

I know all of these amazing people in Guatemala with whom I would love to work. How can I set things up so that some of them could join me in the U.S. one day? If they are my friends, is that even allowed? I don’t want to cross any lines!

— Go-Getter from Guatemala

Dear Go-Getter:

Thank you for your questions! It’s so exciting to hear that you’re taking the leap and using this time of unemployment to launch a new company. That takes courage. Congratulations.

There’s no rule that prevents you from hiring people who you happen to be friends with, but unfortunately there’s no immigration category for friends, either!