A few days ago, President Barack Obama voiced his full support for comprehensive immigration reform. The old system is “out of date and badly broken,” the president said at a high school in Las Vegas on Tuesday. A new one is needed.

This status, this broken nature of U.S. immigration policy, is well known by those of us who live and breathe in the industries of immigration and global mobility. We see it every day and we plan our business strategies around this broken system.

It’s a relief to hear President Obama strongly support immigration reform. In the business world, we’re ready for a fresh look at how immigration in its entirety is managed. This includes traditional work visas like the H-1B and L-1 visas, but it also includes how we manage student visas and the path to permanent residency and citizenship. Throughout history, immigrants have been the life and blood of innovation in the United States and the policies of immigration are either in the way of progress or support it.

We choose to support progress and we build technology solutions whose primary goals are to support progress. For over a decade, INSZoom’s software has powered the migration of professionals, spouses, children, students, parents, artists and more from nation to nation. Our software has tracked them and made sure they stayed compliant with the laws of the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Germany, China, India and more than 80 other countries across this world.

We’ll continue to do so. We’ll continue to expand our software offerings. And we’ll continue to support legislation and policy amendments that help us all progress and innovate, now and in the future.

Welcome to our new blog and our new website and, hopefully, welcome to the future of immigration reform in the U.S. We’ll be here to build the technology to support it, whatever it becomes.

Umesh Vaidyamath has more than 22 years of proven senior technology and management experience in the software industry. As Chief Executive Officer of INSZoom, Umesh drives the overall direction of the company and oversees the company’s engineering, marketing and sales divisions. Follow Umesh Vaidyamath via Facebook, Twitter and Google+

Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Process automation. To immigration lawyers, these terms might sound like buzzwords from faraway industries. After all, immigration lawyers, particularly in the US often still file hard copy petitions, receive paper receipts, approval and other notices, and otherwise deal with a variety of manual government processes.

But recently, there’s been a major shift. Innovations in immigration technology are coming out more rapidly than ever, and we have strived our very best to be on the forefront of immigration technology since our inception in 1999.

After spending several years building, testing, tweaking, and testing again, INSZoom has rolled out the immigration industry’s first process automation bot – Zoomee. Learn more here.

What is Zoomee?

Zoomee is an intelligent process automation bot for immigration teams. In other words, Zoomee is the immigration industry’s very first virtual assistant.

As a virtual assistant, Zoomee can take care of tedious administrative processes that are often done by overworked paralegals or legal assistants. Here’s an example: updating a case after getting a receipt notice in the mail.

Here’s how it works with Zoomee. When you get a receipt notice in the mail, scan and upload it into INSZoom, and let your new virtual assistant – Zoomee handle the rest. With the power of optical character recognition (OCR)/ AI (Artificial Intelligence)/ ML (Machine Learning) technology, Zoomee reads your receipt notice, identifies the corresponding foreign national and updates their case status right in the INSZoom platform.

And it’s not just receipt notices that Zoomee can read, parse and work with. Approval notices, Application Support Center appointment notices, requests for evidence and denial notices are all recognized by your new virtual assistant – Zoomee!

But how smart is Zoomee really?

When we set out to build an intelligent virtual assistant, we had to make sure that it could operate in less-than-perfect scenarios too. Because let’s face it, we’re human and sometimes we make mistakes. A fellow human can catch and fix our mistakes, but can Zoomee?

We say yes, and here are some examples of how.

Have you accidentally made a duplicate foreign national (FN) record in your system, or does that FN have multiple records from past cases? Worry not – Zoomee finds the correct record by searching through and identifying relevant case information, and updating the data accordingly for the right FN record.

Did you get a receipt notice and only then realize you forgot to create a record for the FN client in the first place? Zoomee will create that record for you, populate it with the right FN information, and immediately update it with the receipt notice information. And if you already have a FN record in INSZoom but haven’t opened the specific case for which you got the receipt notice, Zoomee will create that case within the appropriate FN’s record.

Maybe you marked that FN’s record or case as inactive. Zoomee will catch that, activate the case and update it with the new receipt notice data.

And in the rare case when Zoomee can’t figure out exactly what the problem is, you’ll get an exception report for some good old fashioned human intervention.

Here’s the kicker, though. Zoomee isn’t just pre-programmed with knowledge and tasks – it also learns along the way. So the more it works and the more skills and rules it picks up, the more efficient and effective it becomes.

Other than updating reading and updating Receipt notices, what else can Zoomee do?

Aside from OCR and case update skills, we’re really excited about Zoomee’s bulk case creation. Today, we’re able to create bulk H-1B cap cases, non-cap cases and extensions, I-485 adjustment of status applications, and even bulk registrations for the new USCIS electronic H-1B registration system which will open its initial registration period from March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020.

How does this work?

First, you need a workflow spreadsheet. INSZoom has generic workflows that can map to the petitions mentioned above, though you can also create custom workflows per your firm’s processes as well. For bulk case creations, Zoomee goes down the workflow you’ve created and generates cases one by one, validating your existing records for errors, duplicates, etc. along the way.

Where a FN record doesn’t exist for a particular case, Zoomee creates it in your INSZoom account as well.

As with receipt notices, if there’s an issue that can’t be resolved, Zoomee generates an exception report, along with a broader report of all transactions. So you always know what Zoomee’s doing, what it’s accomplished, and when it needs some help figuring out.

At the end of the day, we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve already built and excited for what’s to come. As we learn more from our clients and teach Zoomee more skills, we’ll continue to push the boundaries of artificial intelligence and process automation within the immigration space.

Interested in learning more? Visit our Zoomee page here or reach out to your INSZoom representative at sales@localhost.

Now that the coronavirus has forced most immigration law firms to figure out how to “work from home” (WFH), it’s more important than ever to do it the right way – to ensure that clients continue to be served, casework goes on and business disruption is minimized. Now more than ever it’s becoming clear that remote work capabilities are technology capabilities.

But of course, no immigration law firm is the same, and there’s a big distinction between business firms – those that handle work visas, employment-based green cards, investment visas, and other similar matters, and those that handle family, asylum, deportation defense and other non-business immigration cases.

So, in this article, we’ll break down a few key differences between these two types of firms within the context of coronavirus changes, discuss some of their unique demands and offer a few suggestions as far as how to adapt to a fully remote workforce.

Business immigration firms

We’ll start off with business immigration firms. This category is quite broad, but generally, these are immigration firms whose clients include for-profit and nonprofit organizations, sole proprietors, investors, and high-net-worth individuals. In many instances, correspondence and information transfer with these clients tends to be digital – law firms use robust immigration case management platforms that enable these sophisticated clients to log into their own portals, fill in some if not all their own information, upload important documentation, etc.

There’s email exchange, video conferencing, virtual document review and usually little, if any, human contact. Indeed, immigration law firms and their corporate clients are often located in different states, sometimes even on different coasts. The point is that these business relationships have been virtual for some time already.

So, with the current coronavirus pandemic forcing both law firms and businesses around the country to start working remotely, client correspondence with corporate clients actually hasn’t changed much. But that doesn’t mean that work can now go on as usual – from court filings to the proper use of technology, here are a few things that business immigration firms should be thinking about now as they transition over to a fully remote business.

  • Create shifts for printing and shipping applications. While the US isn’t in total lockdown – at least not yet – only those employees who absolutely can’t do their work remotely, including healthcare providers who work with patients, sanitation workers, police officers, and others, should be leaving their homes for work. In the business immigration context, while much of the work can be done remotely, many visa applications still need to be printed and shipped out by mail. The H-1B for example, cannot be e-filed, which means once all the documents are drafted and gathered, the full petition must be printed and mailed to the USCIS for adjudication. If you are in this situation and you must designate someone from your firm to print and ship applications, try to create shifts so that only one or two people are in the office at any given time printing, preparing and shipping out these applications. If you can print it at home, you can also schedule a FedEx pickup to make it easy and minimize time outside.
  • Digitize paper-based compliance processes. Some processes are traditionally paper-based and must be done in order to stay compliant. Staying with the H-1B visa, the one that comes to mind is the labor condition application (LCA) process, whereby employers must post an LCA notice at worksites where their H-1B worker will be working for a minimum of ten days, and then create a public inspection file called a public access file (PAF) to keep on-site as well. This is a traditionally paper-based process that must be completed, and companies that have traditionally relied on hanging hard-copy posting notices that their employees can see will no longer be able to do that since they won’t be in the office to hang these notices and the rest of the company won’t be there to see them. Luckily, at least in this instance, the US Department of Labor allows for compliance digitally, which means that companies can consider electronic LCA compliance, which can be done remotely.
  • Use immigration case management solutions more effectively. Even though business immigration firms already tend to be heavy immigration case management software users, they don’t always use every feature and function, meaning a lot of the process is still left to back-and-forth email, phone calls, etc. And while phone and email are also remote, they can be much less effective. As law firms transition to being fully remote, replacing email with, say, a client portal will allow HR staff members or, to continue with our example, H-1B candidates, to securely upload documents and information, which will lead to less time spent on back-and-forth emails, less information and files getting lost in the digital shuffle and less headache during an already hectic period of transition. INSZoom has multiple features that can help law firms leverage the platform to more easily transition to a fully remote team – from the client portal mentioned above to our Zoomee virtual assistant that can take on administration work while your human staff work on more important and pressing matters.
Family, asylum and other non-business immigration firms

Non-business immigration law firms use case management tools to manage their documents and case docket too, but their client relationships tend to be different. Whether it’s asylum seekers who feel more comfortable sharing their case history in person or a family trying to get a set of green cards, these client relationships are often more personal and, because of that, in-person. Therefore, this presents its own set of challenges.

So, in addition to some of the suggestions noted above, here are a few more considerations for firms transitioning to a fully remote staff to keep their business running as smoothly as possible.

  • Fully virtual client meetings or very limited staff. First, try to make all your client meetings virtual – whether through services like Zoom, Bluejeans or Google Hangouts, or even just through a Whatsapp or Facebook video call – to keep the face-to-face interaction while taking human exposure into account. In more sensitive cases, clients may prefer to see your face when talking to you, so keeping as much of the “humanness” of an in-person meeting as possible is a great way to keep meetings effective. If it’s absolutely impossible to make the meeting virtual, and if it’s imperative to have the meeting now because of, say, a looming deadline, consider asking just one or two staff members to come into the office – the lawyer or staff member to speak to the client and maybe one administrative staff member to help with other tasks. And during the client meeting, make it clear that you won’t be shaking their hand, that you may sit on the other side of a long table, etc., as a safety precaution and not out of disrespect.
  • On-demand virtual translation services. If you do manage to get your clients to meet over the phone or virtually, and if you would normally have an in-person translator handy, you can either conference that person in to translate or use a translation service not unlike what’s used in courtrooms or hospitals. Whether you dial them in or have them join your meeting, you can continue working with your clients who may not be English speakers without the traditional office setting.
Stay flexible and see what works – we’re all in this together

Coronavirus has turned the immigration industry on its head. From travel restrictions and USCIS office closures to suggested, or in some cases mandated, work-from-home quarantines, immigration lawyers, employers, and individual applicants are all trying to figure out what’s happening at the same time.

As we navigate these changes together, it’s important to keep an open mind and to stay flexible in terms of work capabilities. If an employee or even a client suggests something new to keep the firm’s business going, give it a try. If you have to, buy your employees’ laptops or tablets to help them get set up at home. Give them some time to get used to working from home, and be understanding of frustrations that may come up, likely from all sides.

As for INSZoom, we’re making day-to-day changes as well – you can read about it here. And we’re working with our clients to deliver the best possible service now that it’s more important than perhaps ever before. So if there’s anything we can do to help you, or if you have any questions as to how INSZoom can support your law firm or team, please reach out to us today.

You’ve probably heard horror stories about ransomware attacks. No one is safe from these attacks — law firms both large and small are vulnerable. Now, in addition to the traditional cyber-attacks we’ve come to fear, a new wave of ransomware attacks are hitting law firms. With these new attacks, your law firm’s data isn’t just encrypted and held for ransom, but your clients’ confidential information may be released to the public when the ransom isn’t paid.

There are two key factors that ransomware attackers consider when choosing their victims: accessibility and high-value data. For example, large organizations like universities often have small security teams making them an easier target for ransomware. And organizations like hospitals and law firms have highly sensitive data that they’re often willing to pay steep ransoms to keep private.

The corona-virus pandemic has forced many lawyers into home offices where they must rely on potentially insecure, or at least less secure, internet access and personal devices. And as legal teams continue to work remotely, law firms are left wondering if their data is safe from attack.

But first, what is ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files making them inaccessible until a ransom is paid to the attacker. The ransoms can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, often payable to criminals in Bitcoin. One of the most common entry points for a ransomware attack is phishing spam. Phishing spam is attachments that are sent to the victim in an email, masquerading as a file they should trust. Once the files are downloaded and opened, this ransomware can take over the victim’s computer. Some other, more aggressive forms of ransomware exploit security holes to infect computers without even needing to trick users.

Holding data for ransom is the most common form of ransomware, but the latest evolution of ransomware attacks is being driven by a new form of ransomware known as Maze. In a typical Maze attack, the victim’s network is infiltrated and data is encrypted or made inaccessible. What comes next is what sets Maze apart from other cyber-attacks.

With a Maze attack, your data isn’t just encrypted, it’s also stolen and victims of these attacks are listed publicly on Maze’s website. The hackers then demand two ransoms, usually totaling between $1 million and $2 million. One ransom to get their data back, a second ransom to have it destroyed. If you’re unwilling or unable to pay the ransoms, your data will be made available to the public.

How lawyers can compromise the security

The highly sensitive data that lawyers handle make law firms a valuable target to hackers. Here’s a pretty shocking example that hit the news relatively recently: New York-based media and entertainment lawyers Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks have recently come under attack from the REvil (Sodinokibi) ransomware.

This ransomware is extorting the law firm, threatening to release sensitive files on the company’s celebrity clients. Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks are being extorted for a whopping $42 million ransom. The data at risk of being released to the public if the ransom is not paid includes contracts, nondisclosure agreements, phone numbers and email addresses, and private correspondence.

Ok, so not all lawyers have any celebrity clients, but all lawyers are responsible for keeping their clients’ data private and secure. And the longer we work from home, the more vulnerable our data is to ransomware attacks. So, how can you keep your clients and their data safe?

5 ways immigration lawyers can prevent attacks

The 2019 American Bar Association TECHREPORT noted that 36% of firms have had systems infected, and 26% of firms were unaware if they’ve been infected by malware. Larger firms are the least likely to know if they’ve suffered a malware attack. Security-minded legal professionals have been working hard to limit the amount of data that leaves their control and opting for encrypted, highly-secure, closed-loop systems for their most sensitive documents. Here is what you can do to help prevent ransomware attacks and keep your data safe.

1. Move to the Cloud

More law firms are moving client data and confidential documents from on-premise to cloud-hosted databases. Data is more secure when stored in a system with modern infrastructure and security protocols, instead of stored locally on an outdated system. Fifty-eight percent of firms use cloud technology to manage their clients and run their firms. The cloud provides the security law firms need to protect sensitive and confidential information. Physical security used at most data centers and routine data back-ups makes cloud-based case management software more secure than an on-site database.

2. Monitor email

Hackers exploit technical vulnerabilities via email because lawyers rely heavily on email to manage cases and interact with clients. Lawyers must be trained to monitor email for links and executable files. These files launch automatically when clicked, but applying software restrictions on your devices can prevent executable files from starting up without your consent.

3. Update software and hardware

Application updates are necessary and should not be treated as optional. Each software upgrade provides essential security needed to ward off cyber-attacks. Skipping software and hardware upgrades may offer short-term savings, but you’ll be paying for it in the long-term — loss of data and raised insurance premiums are just two examples of potential costs.

4. Invest in a foreign national portal

A foreign national portal (FN) is typically an interface that’s part of an immigration case management platform made specifically for the foreign national. Through an FN portal, the foreign national or their dependents can log in and perform various functions such as adding personal information, uploading documents, and in some cases view the status of their case and interact with their law firm.

The benefits of using an FN portal to manage immigration cases are numerous and varied. These portals give foreign nationals increased control over their information, which reduces anxiety and increases customer satisfaction. FN portals also guarantee greater data protection by allowing users to upload sensitive documents and otherwise interact directly with a secure, cloud-based portal with security built right into the process. With more access to their information, foreign nationals and their immigration lawyers might also exchange fewer emails, which increases the security of their communications.

5. Train employees on ransomware attacks

Believe it or not, humans are the main cause of most network outages and vulnerabilities. It takes just one human error to throw your entire law firm into chaos. But, you can actually train your employees to help ensure they understand cyber-security and best practices around it. Here are just a few cyber-security rules that are important to keep in mind:

  • Never click on unknown links
  • Do not open email attachments from unknown senders
  • Be wary of downloads
  • Protect your personal data
  • Never use USBs of unknown origins
  • Use a VPN when connected to public Wi-Fi

These steps will tighten your security measures and keep you safe from ransomware attacks.

How INSZoom can help

As data breaches at major law firms continue to make headlines, clients will begin to consider data security when choosing their lawyers And by extension, lawyers have to consider the same thing when looking at the technology they use, especially their case management platforms. Lawyers are obligated to protect clients’ sensitive information from phishing, malware, and ransomware. And INSZoom is built with that in mind, whether related to GDPR and CCPA, data organization, or more.

By Umesh Vaidyamath

In the old days, it was only the big companies that were global. In recent years, mid-size companies began to go global. Now it is common for even start-ups of a handful of people to be spread across the globe. This development was un-thought of only a few short years ago.

Globalization is of two kinds: globalization of markets and globalization of the workforce; globalization of sales and globalization of labor; globalization of output and globalization of input. Markets of companies are being globalized and so are their workforce.

Just as every country has import and export regulations governing movement of goods across their borders, so also they have regulations governing movement of people across their borders for conducting business and working. A business with a Serbian programmer needs to know what documentation and visas he will need to visit US, India or Japan on business. It is not as simple as simply getting a tourist visa—many countries have elaborate processes governing work done by foreigners within their borders. Being able to conduct business while complying with these regulations is critical for a global company.

For a company or a law firm it is nearly impossible to keep track of the immigration and emigration laws and procedures in over a hundred countries. This task is made even harder by the fact that laws and forms keep changing every day.

The solution is to use software to remain on top of immigration matters in countries of interest. INSZoom provides this capability to law firms and to companies. Relying on INSZoom to help with global mobility issues allows law firms and companies to operate globally. To learn more about how INSZoom can assist you, call us at 1-925-244-0600 or write to us at sales@localhost.

Umesh Vaidyamath

Vaidyamath founded INSZoom in 1999. As CEO of INSZoom, Vaidyamath managed the company’s dramatic growth from a software start-up to the premier immigration case management software vendor and the largest independent software company in the immigration software industry, with a team of 160+ employees worldwide. Vaidyamath turned INSZoom into a profitable and financially sound company in less than three years.

Prior to INSZoom, Vaidyamath’s experience included leading a team of software engineers and architecting state-of-the-art large-scale e-commerce and client server applications at Hewlett Packard, Intel Corporation, Mervyn’s California, JB Hunt, Vodafone and AT&T.

Vaidyamath is a frequent speaker on information technology issues and regularly contributes his immigration expertise to leading business magazines and newspapers worldwide. In addition, he is the recipient of the 2007 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award and a 2007 achievement award from Veerashaiva Samaja of North America.

Coming to the U.S. can be daunting. It can be even harder when you enter undocumented or get caught up in immigration red tape. Getting out of those types of difficult situations can become a near impossible goal.

One man, Rick, ran into just that problem. Rick’s wife, Maria, had been detained by immigration authorities and had been in detention for a number of days. He became extremely worried.

Rick checked with several immigration attorneys. They reviewed his wife’s case. Every attorney said the same thing: the case looked extremely complicated. Getting Maria released would be very difficult.

And then Rick met Michael Gurfinkel, lead attorney at the Law Offices of Michael J. Gurfinkel, Inc. (www.gurfinkel.com), and a long-time client of INSZoom. Michael too felt that the case was complicated, but he said something the other attorneys didn’t. He said he felt he could get Maria released. He gave Rick hope. Further, Michael promised Rick that he would do his best so that he and his wife would be together on Valentine’s Day.

Guess what happened? Michael made it happen. Rick and Maria were reunited in the U.S. on Valentine’s Day. Maria got her green card through Gurfinkel’s efforts, and is now a US citizen. It was a true immigration love story.

I’m so proud of Michael and so happy to be able to call him and other excellent attorneys like him my clients. It’s love stories like this one that make me feel good this Valentine’s Day.

By Umesh Vaidyamath

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill in June 2013. Though the House has not passed a bill, several immigration bills were reported by the House Judiciary Committee to the House floor. There is a dramatic difference between the visions of the Senate and the House for IT immigration.

The Senate is largely unfriendly to IT immigration as it exists today. It wants to destroy intermediaries for IT talent (“body shops”). If it has its way, the “H-1B dependent” employers will no longer exist. The Senate bill would compel large companies to hire IT personnel directly from India, instead of their current use of “body shops”. Smaller companies will be hit because they don’t have the ability to hire overseas. All this will cause turmoil in the current IT ecosystem, especially in Silicon Valley.

The House on the other hand regards the current IT industry as one of America’s success stories. The various bills reported by the House Judiciary Committee will make possible a massive expansion of the IT industry by increasing quotas, and reducing wait times, ushering in a golden age of American IT immigration giving America access to the best IT talent throughout the world.

The Senate and the House bills represent significantly different visions for IT immigration. It is difficult to tell which one will prevail—as in all politics, we can expect a combination of the visions to pass the Congress. What is common to both the Senate and the House visions is a massive increase in IT immigration—the difference will be in the structure of that expansion. But the costs will be high in terms of increased fees and increased regulations under either vision, the Senate’s or the House’s. Agencies like USCIS and DOS are not good at adjusting to change, and will struggle with handling the new law when it comes. The IT industry will also struggle as a result. Change in IT immigration is imminent even if there is no Comprehensive Immigration Reform since IT issues are so important that some IT legislation is to be expected regardless of how Comprehensive Immigration Reform fairs.

Law firms that use digital case management will be at a major advantage, because productivity in immigration processing, which has been competitive advantage so far will now become a survival requirement. INSZoom stands ready to help any law firm who wants to achieve these productivity increases and prepare for the changes coming to IT immigration in 2014.

By Umesh Vaidyamath

USCIS has not digitized its processes yet. Its first attempt to do so on a large scale was the ELIS system, which was launched with a great deal of fanfare. However, since its launch, the usage of the system has been much lower than hoped for and the use of it has not spread much beyond the original form I-539. When the USCIS goes digital, immigration law firms will need to do so as well. But there are two kinds of law firms that have seen the writing on the wall and have made significant progress in moving to digital work flow and into the Cloud.

The largest immigration practices have been at the cutting edge of moving to the cloud. Of the top 25 immigration practices around 25% have already moved to the cloud and we expect that in a year or so that percentage will cross 50%. The rationale for doing so is competitive. The trend towards moving to the cloud is clear. These firms have a choice of whether they are ahead of the curve or behind.

Practices that serve the IT community have made strides into the cloud as well. Their clients are more sophisticated and demand and expect to work on the Cloud. Younger and solo practices with little legacy issues move to the cloud more readily, and are able to reap the benefits of doing so.

Here are some of the most compelling reasons for an immigration law practice to move to the cloud:

Improve Accessibility:
  • Work from anywhere and anytime;
  • Accessible through any device, mobile, laptop, Mac, Windows
  • Location independence.
  • Ease access to Information using web interfaces
  • Convenience and Continuous Availability
Globalize Your Operations:
  • Seamless working together across all US and Global offices for law firms as well as clients
Robust Security and Recovery:
  • State of the art security
  • Control access to all documents
  • Efficient backup and recovery
  • Resiliency and Redundancy

There is one advantage of moving to the cloud which most companies who sell cloud services and practices that choose to move to the cloud do not fully realize until they have made the move. Using the cloud saves you a large amount of file storage space. If you look around your office or any law firm office, 15-20% of the raw square footage of law offices is consumed by file storage. You can make much better use of space than storing paper files. Moving to the cloud results in a better office: more pleasant and more efficient.

INSZoom stands ready to help you transition to the cloud. You can read our white papers on “Moving to the Cloud” and “Is the Cloud Secure?” and contact a representative by email: sales@localhost or phone: 925-244-0600 to learn more. We look forward to putting you on cloud nine.

By Umesh Vaidyamath

I came to the United States in 1990. I was a dreamer and was lucky to have an H-1B immigration status, unlike Obama’s DREAMers of today.

I was sponsored for my H1-B and then my Green Card by the Fortune 100 company I worked for. I still remember how the company’s HR department had no clue about the seriousness or complexity of the immigration process. For them, it was just another set of paperwork. They empowered me to take care of my own immigration needs. They gave me a budget. I chose my own attorney and, with him, managed my own immigration process. It took me 18 months to get my Green Card.

But oh the times have changed. Today, many HR departments get it. The U.S. government as well as advocacy groups like the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Council of International Professionals (ACIP) have done a tremendous job of educating the industry of the need and the complexity of immigration.

Just as important is the support and advocacy from leaders from companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, Dropbox and Microsoft. If you haven’t yet heard of it, take a few moments to learn more about FWD.us. They are an organization started by key leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Reid Hoffman and they want to make immigration reform real.

FWD.us is conducting a “Hackathon” on November 21 and 22, in which DREAMer engineers and product designers and their mentors will code for 24 hours straight at LinkedIn’s headquarters.

I would like to personally congratulate all of the selected DREAMers and wish them the best of luck during the Hackathon and in their future careers and lives. Godspeed to all of you and kudos to Mark Zuckerberg and the entire FWD.us team for this great initiative.

DREAMers selected for DREAMers hackathon

Luis Aguilar, 25, Falls Church, VA
Gerardo Alvarado, 25, Milwaukee, WI
Isabel Bahena, 23, San Leandro, CA
Sarahi Espinoza, 23, East Palo Alto, CA
Roly Fentantes, 25, New York, NY
Erick Garcia, 27, Mesa, AZ
Jay Hu, 23, New York, NY
Henry Lopez, 19, Falls Church, VA
Rocio Lopez, 24, Mountain View, CA
Celso Mireles, 26, Phoenix, AZ
Justino Mora, 24, Los Angeles, CA
Erick Orellana, 20, Patchogue, NY
Edson Sierra, 20, Charlotte, NC
Kent Tam, 24, Los Angeles, CA
Dayana Torres, 19, Fairfax, VA
Edgar Torres, 26, Oceanside, CA
Jorge Torres, 27, Oceanside, CA
Carlos Vargas, 28, New York, NY

Inszoom Academy