“Mythic” isn’t a word you want to hear when it comes to the process of landing your next job. But that is exactly what the US immigration process feels like to most tech employees, says Mandy Feuerbacher, EVP of Sales & Consular Affairs at Argo Visa.
“Getting a visa approved lives as something of almost mythic proportions in the minds of international citizens. Nobody knows how these officers make these decisions,” Feuerbacher explained to Hypepotamus.
The reality is that neither US companies nor employees really understand the inherently complicated process. Immigration is handled both by the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security’s USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), explained Feuerbacher. US immigration lawyers are often not as well versed in the overseas consular side of the process.
3.7 million visa applications are denied each year post-interview. Currently, 1 in 5 visa applicants face problems at their H-1B visa interviews and 1 in 6 face problems with L-1 visas. This can wreak havoc on companies desperate to bring in the best talent.
Argo Visa, a Greenville, South Carolina-based company, launched to help organizations and employees navigate the complicated US visa application interview process. That includes working through the paperwork while navigating any cultural and language barriers associated with the process.
Behind Argo is a group of former diplomats, immigration lawyers, and visa officers. Chris Richardson founded the company after spending years in the foreign service. He told Hypepotamus that he was “appalled” by the complicated visa process.
“I really felt that there needed to be a company responsive to clients and the millions of people out there who want to travel, visit, or study in the US but get really bad information,” he added.
So far in 2022 Argo has helped with 2,000 visa cases and has racked up a 99.5% approval rating.
Alongside a team of experts, the platform also has ArgoBot on its website as a tool to help evaluate the status of a visa claim immediately.
Startups & The Visa Process
Visa holders are a crucial part of the US workforce at companies of all sizes. But the number of visas granted remains small even as the job openings remain high across the US tech industry.
“The world is just a smaller place now. There is a lot of great foreign talent that US employers are trying to get to. Traditionally, foreign nationals had very little power. Now corporations have to fight to get the best foreign talent,” added Feuerbacher.
Growing startups are also competing for top international talent.
“A lot of entrepreneurs want to hire foreign nationals or asylum seekers and they think they can navigate the process on their own because they are entrepreneurial. But the immigration system isn’t one of those things that you can do yourself,” Richardson added. “It does feel like our immigration system is not being very responsive to startup founders and to people who want to come to the US and provide that entrepreneurial spirit that we desperately need.”
Richardson said that larger organizations are the ones that typically have the resources to sponsor visa applicants. But improving the visa process for entrepreneurs is key to Argo’s overall mission, Richardson added.
580 out of every 100,000 immigrants to the US are entrepreneurs, a rate significantly higher than US-born individuals.
“Immigrants over-represent as entrepreneurs and startup founders and in many parts of American society. Argo is a firm believer that an immigration system is effective if it can give transparency. Because our success is America’s success. This is what’s built America….immigrants being able to come to our country and successfully help our country continue perpetually and reinvent itself.”