(Photo by Flickr user Tim Sackton, under a Creative Commons license)
This reporter can attest to how tough it is to legally immigrate to the U.S. There are countless forms to fill out and complex processes to follow, not to mention that lawyers’ fees can be crushing.
And though local nonprofits like Nationalities Service Center and HIAS Pennsylvania do what they can to help, one immigrant entrepreneur is taking a crack at making things simpler through tech with a company called Borderwise.
Jeremy Peskin, himself a Canadian immigrant and immigration lawyer, started Borderwise in February of 2016 to see if it was possible to guide immigrants through the pricey, complex process of filing for an immigrant visa. To do so, the company just raised $250,000 through a friends and family round. Also, they just got accepted to Philly Startup Leaders’ accelerator program (more on the rest of the cohort soon).
“People don’t realize that a major barrier to legal immigration is the application itself,” Peskin said in a press release. “A green card application can require 40 pages of paperwork on over twelve different forms. For immigrants that aren’t fluent in English and can’t afford $3,000 in legal fees, this is a real problem.”
Peskin, 33, told Technical.ly that the company is in the process of building a network of immigration lawyers in the U.S. who will review users’ visa applications and provide consultations either in person or via phone or Skype. Users will pay for the consultations through the system, with Borderwise collecting a fee.
According to its website, users can apply for a visa through the online platform for the sum of $500 (that’s way below usual lawyer fees, which regularly oscillate between $2,500 and $5,000.)
The company has three full-time employees: Peskin, cofounder and immigration attorney James Pittman and an India-based developer.
Though the platform is currently only available for family-based green card applications, by 2017 the company hopes to add naturalization and work visa processes as well.
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