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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

Newbie to the forum, though I've definitely been reading a good number of threads for a while now. A good number of my questions have been answered in part elsewhere, I'm simply looking for more clear-cut answers for my whole situation for them, and I have some business-related questions that I can't seem to find much information on. I've bolded my questions, if you'd rather jump to those.

My scenario in bullet-point form:

  • I am a UK citizen. I am a professional software engineer (with a Master's degree, if it matters).
  • I have a fiancée who is a US citizen (Florida resident). She is a student, likely graduating in ~2 years.
  • We are looking to live in the USA permanently.
  • Not fussy about marriage ceremony (i.e. we have accepted that it's going to be just us and required officials, though how happy the families are is another thing entirely ;) ).
  • Current plan is the K-1 visa (apply, get approved, move to US, get married, change status, live happily ever after).
  • I am currently unemployed (recently made redundant).
  • Given the fact that I'm looking to move to the US relatively soon, I'm looking in to short-term employment options in the UK, including contracting.

In terms of our relationship, we have visited each other more than enough for me to have no worries about any doubts about the legitimacy of our relationship from a visa perspective.

One of my concerns is the financial side of things. My fiancée does not have savings of note, nor an income of note (part-time cashier during her studies). I have reasonable savings (I could live for verging on a year in my present situation without any significant issues), but currently no job.

She lives with her mother and step-father, who do not have significant savings but do have a reasonable income. Her father, and a lot of her close family, live very close by (and are on excellent terms with her mother/step-father).

When filing the K-1 it is my understanding that either the sponsor (my fiancee) is able to show that she is able to support me, or that (typically) a friend/family member in the USA is willing to be a joint sponsor (I can't post links, I believe, but any quick Google search seems to indicate as above). I'm certain that one of her family would be willing to be a joint-sponsor. Is the fact that we would likely need a joint-sponsor something that can cause problems?

Other than her/my employment situation, I believe we are a textbook case for a K-1 visa. If any of the above or below indicates otherwise do feel free to point it out.

My employment situation is a bit unusual - by my estimates I can expect to be in the UK for around another year (ballpark figure) from the point of filing the visa application (~9 months to get approval, then a few months to sort out travel arrangements etc., up to a maximum of 6 months from approval).

I'd obviously like to have an income while I'm still here, and am considering switching from the life of a permanent staff member to that of a contractor. I'm reasonably clued in about how to go about that in the UK (as an LLC and/or working as an employee of an "umbrella" agency). Would forming/doing the admin and tax work for an LLC in the UK be a hassle if I'm planning on moving to the USA in ~1 year?

One thing I'm not clear on regarding the K-1: if I own a UK LLC, can I still work for it while on a K-1 visa and in the US?

Once I've gotten married and had my status changed (such that I'm then able to work in the US), would I simply be able to form an LLC in the US and de-register my LLC in the UK?

Once I'm in the USA, if the contracting thing has gone well I'd obviously like to continue doing it, but am open to full-time permanent employment if it looks like it will work out better at that time (permanent employee wages in the US are significantly higher than those in the UK in my industry, strangely).

I appreciate that a lot of these are questions that accountants should be consulted for official answers for, but any initial pointers would be great. In terms of my ideal scenario, I'd love to have my own company (for UK tax purposes), but suspect that it may complicate things during the transition quite significantly.

Thanks a bunch!
 

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If your wife to-be cannot sponsor you for the spouse visa, then you HAVE to have a joint sponsor to fulfill financial requirements.

Sorry, can't answer the questions on setting up the LLC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If your wife to-be cannot sponsor you for the spouse visa, then you HAVE to have a joint sponsor to fulfill financial requirements.

Sorry, can't answer the questions on setting up the LLC.
K-1 is a fiancé(e) visa, but I know what you mean. That sounds fair enough. Again, can't post links (irritatingly), but it looks to be an entirely reasonable sum (~$10k + $5k per person in the sponsor's household), so shouldn't be an issue in my case.

Thanks!
 

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Not sure where you got your figures from but the sponsor must have resources (income) per annum of 125% of poverty level.

See chart below - final figure needed depends on household number:

2015 Poverty Guidelines
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not sure where you got your figures from but the sponsor must have resources (income) per annum of 125% of poverty level.

See chart below - final figure needed depends on household number:

*snip*
Exactly the site I used for reference. Roughly translates to $10k + $5k per extra member of the household (I was ballparking) for the first few members, at least. Looking forward to being able to post links in a few more posts. ;)
 

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On the LLC side of things - I'm not sure why setting up an LLC in the UK should be a problem, given your plans to move to the US, other than having gone through all the time and trouble for only a very short term.

On arrival in the US, you aren't allowed to work until after you are married and have changed your status (if I understand correctly). At that point, if you want to continue as a contractor, you'll have to establish a US based business (if only as self-employed). I don't think it's practical to try to do business through the UK based LLC unless you have employees and a structure remaining over in the UK while you are in the US. I.e. you could set up a US branch of your UK LLC if the UK business kept on running in your absence.

You also need to be careful if you're working as a "contractor" in the States. The status is often used by large businesses to avoid paying "payroll taxes" and they're about due to start cracking down on the practice again.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Affidavit of Support
Your US spouse, cosponsors or self sponsorship based on assets - take your pick

K1 - you will be unable to work until Adjustment of Status is granted. I have heard of six months and longer lately.

CR1 - you can work as soon as your Green Card petition is approved.

LLC UK - it is your business how you earn your living as long as you have the tax report to back it up. You can work as contractor for your UK corporation. Does not seem to make a lot of sense for a one man show.

LLC US - it costs a few dollars to establish an LLC if that is the route you want to go. Consider that you need to up your rate by roughly 1/3 to be at W2 employee level. My pet peeve - liability coverage. You may find it easier to start out in corporate unless you have the network to secure continuous contracts.

Parents - bite the bullet and have a reception or party to keep everyone happy. The connections you can build there may be worth the three hours of smiling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You also need to be careful if you're working as a "contractor" in the States. The status is often used by large businesses to avoid paying "payroll taxes" and they're about due to start cracking down on the practice again.
Cheers,
Bev
I gather it's a fairly standard thing in the software engineering field? I may be mistaken from a US perspective, but it's certainly common in the UK. Worth me having a look in to, thanks for highlighting it.

Affidavit of Support
Your US spouse, cosponsors or self sponsorship based on assets - take your pick
I had no idea you could self-sponsor financially! No idea how I missed that, but thanks for pointing that out.

As for the rest: LLCs are a pretty standard way of operating a one-man show in the UK for software development, but I agree that it seems like a bit nonsensical if it's only for ~1 year.

I do need to investigate US tax law to work out how sensible it is over there, I may resort to becoming a permanent employee again once the change of status has gone through until I find my feet.
 

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You don't actually need a LLC to work self-employed in the U.S. One major reason people create LLCs is, as the name suggests, for liability reasons. However, I (and many others) question that idea since it's really rather easy to "pierce the corporate veil" in the U.S. especially when there's a sole proprietorship. Adequate insurance is important if you're concerned about liability.

Obviously employers everywhere desire as few employee entanglements as possible. However, there are fewer employee protections in the U.S., so having many, sequential jobs of short duration is not at all uncommon in the software industry in the U.S. I completely agree with Bev that lately the U.S. Labor Department has taken a dim view of the overuse of contractor relationships, though that dim view is mainly a problem for employers.
 
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