In some cases when traveling to a conference or summit you might need to arrange a visa to enter that specific country.
Always check the website of the Embassy of the Country you want to visit located in your home country. They will have the most updated information on whether or not you need a visa and what is needed for your application. In some instances you can travel under a visa waiver program (e.g. ESTA) in other cases you might need to arrange a tourist or business visa. Read their website carefully and ask People Ops if you need any help with acquiring the needed documents for your application.
We gladly organize and pay for local legal assistance, especially if you are at high risk of having a long process.
If you need a visa to travel to the United States, please fill out this form. Here is an example of the how the form will looked when completed. People Ops will verify accuracy and send you an email with the signed letter.
Tips & Tricks for visa arrangements
Make sure to start on time with your arrangements for a visa. It can take up to 3-4 months to acquire a US visa, as an example. Consider this recent example that several team members faced when they were arranging their visa to come to the summit in Austin in May of 2016. First, there was a delay of weeks to a month between the time they called to make an appointment at a US embassy and the date of the actual appointment. In some cases, the application then moved through the process with no issues and the visa was ready within two weeks. In other cases, the visa application was marked for "administrative processing" which can take up to 60 days, and is pretty much a black hole in terms of information and process.
Check if your passport is still valid long enough
Give priority to arranging your visa, it can take time to get an appointment to apply at the Embassy.
Double check if you have all needed document and information. Ask People Ops to help you check this if you like.
Think of the answers you will give during your visa interview; it can influence your visa approval/denial.
Once the dates for a conference or summit are set start asap with your application if you have needed a special visa in previous situations, just to give yourself enough time and room for errors if they arise.
Timeline guide for visa applications
6 months beforehand: make appointment at embassy, and start gathering all necessary paperwork, forms, certificates, pictures, etc.
Sometimes you might call the embassy, and be told that you do not need to schedule an interview so far ahead of your trip. Don't take their word for it, since that advice is typically made with the "typical, best case" process in mind and for example in the case of the USA does not account for the possibility of a black hole "administrative processing" period. In other words, make sure you get an appointment as early as possible.
If the country where the embassy/consulate is located where you are going for your application is listed as anything other than "High Income" by the World Bank's "Little Data Book" then it is likely that the embassy/consulate there has a high tendency to say "no" to visa applications. We recommend to engage the services of a local lawyer who is familiar with the embassy process to help check that your paperwork is in order, and to practice interview questions. You're also welcome to ask for support when you are in a "High Income" country. People Ops can help you with this.
4 months beforehand (or earlier): go to embassy for interview.
2 months beforehand: if you have not received your visa by now, contact your local lawyer again, and/or People Ops, to see if anything can be done to expedite the process.
H1B Visa Processing
To transfer an H1B Visa, GitLab needs to initiate the transfer before the team member can start work. In the past we have used Immigration Law Group as our legal counsel to help us through these steps.
People Ops should reach out to legal counsel to start the process.
Legal Counsel will reach out to the new team member and their manager to gather all information in regards to the transfer itself and the position.
If there is a need for a rush in processing the H1B (plans for travel outside the US, for example) then you can file the transfer under premium processing, if approved by the CEO.
Once the documents have been prepared by the law group, they will be sent to the CFO for wet signatures, and then returned to the law group.
Once the law group receives the signed forms, they can file the transfer with USCIS. Note: Until we receive confirmation that the transfer paperwork has been received by USCIS, the new team member cannot start work at GitLab.
Confirm to legal counsel when the new team member starts work at GitLab.
File all documentation in BambooHR surrounding the transfer.