Immigrant Entrepreneurs Attend Advocacy Day in D.C.

Posted on 04/15/2015

On Tuesday, FWD.us and the National Immigration Forum organized an incredibly successful day of direct advocacy for immigration reform. 15 immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators from across the country met with over a dozen legislators on Capitol Hill to advocate for fixing the high-skilled immigration system. The event coincided with the announcement that a record-breaking 233,000 H-1B visa applications were received by USCIS for the 85,000 available visas for FY 2016.

Borui Wang of San Francisco and Hanlin Hong of Boston, are two of the 233,000 people who submitted H-1B applications this year and spent Tuesday advocating for reforms to the visa system that will help them stay in the United States. Both Wang and Hong have degrees from American universities and have created jobs for native-born Americans.

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Advocacy Day participants with FWD.us Organizing Director Lisa Conn and President Todd Schulte.

The participants delivered the message of the #Freedom2Innovate directly to their representatives –highlighting the need for a visa system that works for entrepreneurs, students, and businesses. After meetings with legislators from seven different states, the Advocacy Day continued with a press conference featuring Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who called for passing a high-skilled immigration reform bill in the Senate.

FWD.us President Todd Schulte closed the press conference with a statement: “The need for comprehensive immigration reform matters to so many people, to millions of American families, and it’s critical to our economy: we will be working on this until it gets done. The commonsense, bipartisan I-Squared bill will make it easier for the best and the brightest talent to stay in the U.S. and fully contribute to our communities and workforce.”

Check out some of the best tweets from the day:

Want to get involved in direct advocacy for immigration reform? Join your FWD.us chapter now.

Tech Leaders Push for High-Skilled Immigration Reform in D.C.

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 04/13/2015

On April 1st, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) began accepting thick stacks of H-1B visa applications from high-skilled immigrants eager to build their companies and create jobs on American soil. Merely five business days later, enough applications had been received to fill all 85,000 available visas for the entire year.

The next step? Wait. Close to 200,000 applications were expected this year, and over the next few weeks a random computer algorithm will select who gets an H-1B visa, and who has to leave. The high-skilled visa process is broken. There’s no pathway for immigrant entrepreneurs to create companies in the U.S. and we routinely send immigrant graduates from top U.S. universities back to their home countries, limiting our innovative potential.

That’s why entrepreneurs from across the country are flying to Washington D.C. and meeting with legislators all day tomorrow to advocate for high-skill immigration reform.

We’ll be live-tweeting throughout the day – follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date on this critical advocacy opportunity!

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Meet two of the entrepreneurs who are advocating for high-skilled immigration reform in D.C. tomorrow:

Borui Wang
Flying in from: Palo Alto, CA
Company: Polarr

Borui Wang

Borui received his Master’s degree in computer science from Stanford and founded Polarr, a photo optimization platform, in August. He employes 3 Americans and wants to keep his company in Silicon Valley. After applying for an H-1B visa on April 1, Borui is waiting to find out if his application will be randomly selected in the H-1B lottery.

Martin Wallner
Flying in from: Austin, TX
Company: The Purple Crown

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Martin received an H-1B visa last year and founded The Purple Crown, a platform that facilitates roommate relationships in cities. After graduating from Harvard, Martin had to return to Austria. Though his visa status is currently secure, he is going to D.C. to advocate for other tech founders who were not selected in the H-1B lottery.

Follow us and #Freedom2Innovate on Twitter to stay in the loop on Borui’s and Martin’s progress throughout the day tomorrow. 

H-1B Visa Cap Reached in Just Five Days

Posted on 04/07/2015

FWD.us President Todd Schulte released this statement today in response to the USCIS announcement that the H-1B visa cap for FY 2016 has been reached:

“One week – that’s all the time our country allows for high-skilled immigrants to apply for H1-B visas to try to enter the lottery to be able to stay in the U.S. Once again, we see the absurdity of our broken immigration system. The fact that it hasn’t even been a full week since the process opened on April 1st, makes it clear that our broken immigration system continues to hinder our economic growth and job creation.

Immigration has long been our country’s greatest competitive advantage in a global economy, and we should be encouraging the best and the brightest to continue to grow their businesses and create American jobs here at home, instead of denying those dreams and encouraging them to do so for our competitors. Hitting the H-1B visa cap today underscores the urgent need for reform, and we’ll continue working every day to pass a permanent legislative solution.”

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“The broken visa system could derail my dreams with the flip of a coin,” said Borui Wang, who received his Master’s degree at Stanford and founded the company Polarr. Borui applied for an H-1B visa this year and, based on FY 2015 data, he has about a 49% chance of being chosen in the lottery. Even though Borui has created three jobs for native-born Americans, he has few options for staying in the United States as an entrepreneur if his H-1B visa application is denied.

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The fact is, we are educating people like Borui at America’s best universities, and then denying them the opportunity to build companies that will grow our economy and create American jobs. We need to fix our broken visa system so companies like Borui’s can continue to thrive and contribute to America’s innovative edge. Sign the #Freedom2Innovate petition now to show your support for fixing our visa system and keeping the best and the brightest in the United States.

H-1B Visa Lottery 2016: Who Will Win This Year?

Posted by Chris Golden on 04/01/2015

For the last 30 days, FWD.us has been counting down to Wednesday, April 1st. Today is the day when the 2016 FY H-1B visa lottery opens and immigrant entrepreneurs begin applying for an extremely limited number of slots that will allow them to start companies and create jobs in America, instead of doing so for our foreign competitors.

On March 2nd, we held a Day of Action on which thousands of you called Congress to tell them that we can’t wait any longer to fix our broken immigration system and give everyone the #Freedom2Innovate.

Today, we’re sharing stories of entrepreneurs directly affected by the H-1B visa lottery.

2016 H-1B visa lottery

Here are the facts:

  • Today’s H-1B visa lottery is subject to an arbitrary cap. Just last year, we hit the cap for applications less than one week after the lottery was opened. We expect this year’s cap to be reached in about the same time, or even less. The program is in need of reform and must be modernized to reflect the changing nature of our workforce and the needs of our global economy.

  • For every 100 H-1B visa holders, another 183 jobs are generated for native-born U.S. workers. As The Economist and various studies have concluded, highly skilled workers – among them, talented visa holders – create American jobs. Immigrants boost the U.S. economy and create jobs in our country. 

  • Every foreign student who graduates from a U.S. university with an advanced degree and stays and works in a STEM-related field creates an additional 2.62 American jobs. It is completely counterproductive to educate foreign-born scientists and engineers at American colleges and universities, train them in our companies, and then deny them visas to stay in the U.S. to start their own businesses and create jobs.

We are a nation of immigrants. Foreign-born talent is vital to U.S. economic growth. The H-1B visa lottery is fundamentally flawed. It’s another clear example of how our immigration system is broken, and why Congress needs to act now to fix it.

We’ll be sharing the stories of immigrants who deserve the freedom to innovate all day online. We hope that you’ll join us, and contribute your own story with the hashtag #Freedom2Innovate.