US Exceptional Talent Visa FAQ

The Frequently Asked Questions below should provide everything you need to know about the United States Exceptional Talent O1 Visa Program but if you have any questions not answered here please reach out to Note this FAQ only covers the United States Exceptional Talent O1 Visa Program please consult the Zen Launchpad Incubator FAQ or the Canada Startup Visa FAQ if you need info about those programs.

What is the Zen Launchpad and Guideli United States Exceptional Talent Incubation Program? The United States Exceptional Talent Incubation Program is a partnership between Guideli and Zen Launchpad which offers exceptional startups from around the world the opportunity to move to the United States on the O1 Exceptional Talent visa.  In this partnership, Guideli supports the visa application while Zen Launchpad provides incubation and ensures the startups are supported in their relocation.

What is the United States Exceptional Talent Visa program? The O1 visa enables particularly talented foreign persons to take up employment in the USA with a US company or organization. 

What is Zen Launchpads' relationship with Guideli? Guideli is an early-stage company based in the United States and one of Zen Launchpad's portfolio companies. They are leveraging artificial intelligence to empower immigrants and optimize permanent residency applications globally. We have partnered with them to support our founders who would be best served by the O1 Visa.

Can the O1 be used as a Startup Visa? Yes, but it is a little bit more tricky than more formal startup visa programs like the Canada Startup Visa. When using the O1 visa to move a company founders will be required to transition to a different visa category such as the E2 to obtain permanent residence. As part of your application, the team at Guideli will review your particular situation and provide you with feedback on how to best move forward.  

Who is eligible for the O1 Visa? In a startup context, the O1 visa is available to founders who have demonstrated exceptional talent in Business or the Sciences. In order to utilize the O1 visa you must own a US company that will in effect sponsor your application for the O1. 

Am I eligible for the program if I am already in the United States? Yes. The O1 visa can be applied for from the United States.

Can I apply if my company is idea stage, MVP, series A, etc.? Because the O1 is not a startup visa generally your company will need to be more established to take advantage of it but there is some flexibility. If you are an idea or seed stage company you might want to consider the Canada Startup Visa.

Can founders bring their family on the O1 Visa? Yes. The O1 visa allows families to join the founder in the US. It is critical to note that families do not receive a work permit via the O1.

Can I live anywhere in the United States on the O1 Visa? Yes. The O1 Visa program has no restrictions on where you reside. 

Can I apply for both the O1 visa and a Canada or United Kingdom startup visa simultaneously? Yes, you can. In fact, it is a very standard approach to apply for both the  Canada Startup Visa in order to have the increased predictability of the Canadian application process and the O1 to be able to travel to the US immediately for fundraising. This route brings with it higher legal fees but it is really the best of all worlds in terms of flexibility and long-term potential.  If you want to explore this option just let us know you are interested in on your application. 

How do I get the O1 Visa? Once you are accepted to the Zen Launchpad incubator we will connect you to our immigration partner to support the O1 Visa application. Note as mentioned above the O1 is not a startup visa and the application process is slower and less predictable than a startup visa so you need to understand that this process might take a long time.

Are there any costs associated with the O1 Visa? There are a few fees associated with the O1 Visa. These are the program fees paid to Zen Launchpad, visa fees, and consultant fees paid to your immigration consultant. Zen Launchpads Program Fee depends on the number of founders in your startup: 

Consultant and Visa fees need to be discussed with your consultant and will vary based on your specific circumstances but will likely be less than $10,000 USD. As part of your application, we will connect you to our partner consultant and determine the exact costs before we move forward.

How do I get started? To get started simply send your application to