Techies Unite for Political Reform and Entrepreneurship
FWD.us is an organization of politically savvy tech wizards aiming to voice their values in American politics. MassChallenge supports them in their launching of the Entrepreneurs Pathways program, which they call the Startup Visa. FWD.us submitted a 12 page crowd-sourced policy recommendation to the White House, challenging them to reform our broken immigration system. The brief is reminiscent of the Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program (GEIR), a Massachusetts bill that they supported in 2014, which allows universities to act as sponsors for student entrepreneurs in need of work visas. The university provides them with part time work so the students can get a cap-exempt H-1B visa, which gives them time to apply for the entrepreneurs work authorization.
While FWD.us is currently shining the spotlight on the affect visa acquisiton has on entrepreneurs in particular, their organization stretches well beyond this one issue. According to their New England Director, Andi, FWD.us is an advocacy organization created to help organize the broader tech community to promote a bipartisan policy agenda including comprehensive immigration reform, education reform, and support for scientific research that will boost the knowledge economy to ensure more jobs, innovation and investment, now and in the future. You can learn more at www.FWD.us.
MassChallenge wants to help get people educated on this issue, as well as to show support for the brief when it comes out sometime between now and November. There is an incredible pool of untapped potential in the 11 million undocumented immigrants who find themselves unable to gain citizenship in America, and it would be a huge loss to our economy to let it continue.
There are many individuals of varying immigration status at MassChallenge past and present who struggle or have struggled with this, like Jose Luis Reyes Garcia. Jo was born in Mexico, and lived in Guadalajara for most of his life. Having visited family in the US since he was a child, he moved to Boston just to be a part of the MassChallenge program. One of his valued employees was supposed to follow, but he couldn’t because the Consulate denied him his visa twice. It is maddeningly unfair to people like Jo and his employee. He feels that the US immigration policies and procedures could be made more efficient and fair if they could just be fast-tracked if you have a letter for MassChallenge or another institution of startups, says Jo, an idea similar to the Global Entrepreneur in Residence program.
Jo believes that many Mexican and international entrepreneurs would flock to the US and open their businesses here if only the system would allow it. Not nearly enough people are able to do what Jo and has done: to fearlessly dive in headfirst with a simple idea and turn it into a thriving, successful business, to create American jobs. The U.S. economy would only be positively impacted by this, expanding the overall innovation ecosystem nationwide.