Last night in the State of the Union address, Obama discussed our broken immigration policies, and how we train some of the brightest people in the world in our universities and then kick them out to compete against us.
It almost happened with Aprizi. Liz, my co-founder, is Australian. She got her PhD in computer science at Carnegie Mellon. When we started Aprizi together a year ago, we knew that our bootstrapped company could not afford to pay her “market salary”, which is staggeringly high in New York for someone of her pedigree and caliber. The visa process was enormously time consuming, complicated, expensive, and very stressful. (and by the way, the “Startup Visa” program would not have helped us, since my understanding is that it requires companies to have taken institutional investment)
In our case, the system worked out in the end. After an intense process, Liz received her O1 visa. However, it was a huge drag on the business for a while and Liz even needed to return to Australia for six weeks due to a problem extending the training portion of her student visa. I am sure that there are many people out there who were not so fortunate, and startups that did not survive the process.
This is broken and idiotic. Why would we take someone who is highly talented, willing to take the risk and put in the massive effort to build a new company and create new jobs in this country, and send all that talent and energy elsewhere?
This should be a non-partisan issue. It is a pro-entrepreneurship, pro-talent, pro-America issue. Congress, please fix it.