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.

Support a Pathway for Entrepreneurs

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 03/18/2015

Last November, as part of his executive action announcement, President Obama introduced an Entrepreneur Pathways program (EPP) — which will serve as a “startup visa” for entrepreneurs who want to grow businesses and create jobs in America.

But we know this program can only be successful if the community has a say in the process. So FWD.us held roundtables with VCs, accelerators, immigrant entrepreneurs, and legal experts and carried out a national survey to crowdsource your great ideas. We recently compiled all of this information into a recommendation brief and submitted it to the White House.

Take a look at the FWD.us recommendation brief and sign on in support.

The FWD.us brief outlines eligibility criteria for EPP based on investment, revenue, and job creation. We make four main recommendations:

  1. Give Priority to Entrepreneurs That Create American Jobs: Once an applicant qualifies for the Entrepreneur Pathways program, there should be a clear timeline in which the entrepreneur should be able to demonstrate that he/she has created economic opportunity for other Americans. If successful, the entrepreneur should be strongly prioritized to qualify for lawful permanent residency.
  2. Set Distinct Eligibility Criteria According To Applicants’ Backgrounds And Circumstances: Entrepreneurs come from all kinds of backgrounds — young STEM graduates, accelerator participants, entrepreneurs living abroad, and entrepreneurs who have been living and working in the U.S. for several years. Given the separate challenges facing each category of applicant, we provided different evaluation criteria for these different applicants.
  3. Use An Either/Or Approach In Evaluating Applicants: Applicants should be evaluated based on level of investment or revenue, but not both. For example, a company specializing in biotechnology may exceed the funding and job creation criteria, but because of extensive product approval processes, the company won’t be able to make revenue for several years. These applicants should still be considered strong candidates, as long as they meet a selection of the requirements rather than all of the requirements.
  4. Evaluate Job Creation Based On Different Stages of Business Development: When creating the suggested criteria for qualifying for the Entrepreneur Pathways program, we made adjustments according to the different entrepreneur candidates. For example, young STEM graduates and entrepreneurs enrolled in accelerator programs are often in the early stages of their businesses, and should be held to a lower job creation standard than a foreign entrepreneur applying to move her business to the United States.

Join us and show your support for the EPP by signing on to our brief.

By signing onto our brief, you will help us communicate the urgent need for this program. Every day, talented people are prevented from pursuing their dreams and contributing to the strength of our country, and our economy is missing out on the creation of American jobs. This is why the Entrepreneur Pathways program needs to be a priority for the White House. Help us show the Administration that the program has overwhelming support from members of the tech community, and that this is a program whose implementation we cannot afford to delay.

For further information about the Entrepreneur Pathways program, FWD.us’s role in providing community feedback to the White House, and the full text of our 11-page recommendation brief, please visit our website: http://fwdus.wpengine.com/pathways

H-1B Visa Program Boosts Our Economic Growth and Creates American Jobs

Posted by Todd Schulte on 03/17/2015

The H-1B visa program helps ensure that the best and the brightest talent from across the globe can boost our country’s economic growth, expand opportunity, and create American jobs: the simple fact is that the H-1B visa program provides immense economic benefits to our economy, and it’s a false choice that we can’t protect American workers and create a better system that allows American companies to get access to the best talent in the world – we can and must do both.

We continue our work every day to secure a permanent legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system, which is hurting our economy, preventing the creation of American jobs, and forcing millions of families to live in fear of separation from their loved ones. We’ll keep fighting to help drive the changes that our country and our economy urgently need.

Q&A with "She Started It" Documentary Creators

Posted by Viola Olayinka on 03/04/2015

Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed are the co-producers of She Started It – a documentary on female tech founders in the U.S. and Europe that aims to highlight successful role models for young women. FWD.us spoke with her about the film and how she hopes to change the narrative in the tech community.

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She Started It filmmakers interview Agathe Molinar, CEO of Lemoncurve.com, in Paris, France. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: Can you explain what She Started It is and what inspired you to take action?

She Started It team: She Started It is a documentary film on women tech founders in the U.S. and Europe that aims to highlight successful role models for young women and to encourage more girls towards entrepreneurship in the technology industry.

Shot on location in Silicon Valley, NYC, Vietnam and Europe, She Started It follows the main stories of four young female entrepreneurs on their road to startup success – Thuy, Brienne, Stacey and Agathe – as well as featuring veteran experts and role models who give perspective on the issues. As journalists covering the tech industry in Silicon Valley for the past three years, we noticed that there are some great female entrepreneurs that were not getting the spotlight they deserved. There were tons of great male founders to learn from but not enough women, though there were some successful ones that had started companies. We decided we had to shed light on this new entrepreneurial revolution in a compelling way, and film appeared to be the most effective medium to inspire girls globally.

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Jess Lee, CEO, Polyvore in Mountain View, CA   Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: What hurdles have you faced in conceptualizing She Started It?

She Started It team: When the statistic is that 90 percent of all startups fail, you know a lot of people would not want to show some of the real grit on screen, so access to tell the whole story can be hard. That being said, the women we built relationships with really were generous to let us in their lives during insanely busy times – they believed in the message of the film and what we were doing.

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She Started It interview with 18 year old co-founder of Entefy, Brienne Ghafourifar, at their offices in Palo Alto. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: What type of feedback have you received from the tech community?

She Started It team: People are extremely excited to be able to see women in technology on screen in a way that hasn’t been done before. Former leaders in the VC industry have supported us, and amazing men and women such as Megan Smith, Cindy Padnos, Tracy Chou, Sharon Vosmek, Ruchi Sanghvi, Michael Carter, Joanne Wilson (and more) have generously interviewed with us. Derek Anderson at StartupGrind, the people at 500 Startups, Girls Innovate, S.F. Citi and TechCrunch have been instrumental in helping us reach more of the tech community and we really appreciate their support.

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Tracy Chou, software engineer at Pinterest, speaks to She Started It filmmakers. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: How do you hope the role of women in the technology industry can change in the future?

She Started It team: We hope that by seeing this film, women and girls will think, “If she can do it, I can do it.” Not only do we hope that in the future more girls will take interest in studying computer science and math in high school – but that they would also think that they too could become an entrepreneur, or be entrepreneurial in their approach to life. By changing the discourse and the perception around STEM fields and what it means to be entrepreneur, learn what an entrepreneur does, we think we can get more girls to participate in the field, but also learn about persistence, resilience, and confidence and that being okay with failing is part of the process.

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Nora Poggi of She Started It and Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States at Google headquarters. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: What comes next for She Started It?

She Started It team: We are currently in post-production and hope to have a finished film by summer 2015. Our main goal is to tour the film across schools and colleges here and abroad, to inspire as many young people as possible. We also plan to apply to top festivals and are exploring all distribution avenues, like broadcast and online. We are actively fundraising to be able to get to the finish line!

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Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, visits a Girls Innovate event in Palo Alto. Photo: Sheetal J. Patel

FWD.us: If you could tell yourself from 10 years ago something, what would it be?

She Started It team: Persist. Persist. Persist. Learn to be technically savvy in something, it doesn’t matter what. Learn to code, but also learn how to sell.