In the past four years, there has been more growth, investment and exits in the immigration tech space than in the 20 before that. Yet there is very little coverage on immigration tech, or ImmiTech as I like to call it. So I decided to write about it myself.
I’ve been following the ImmiTech space since 2013, and I’m pretty bullish on it. I had to be - after all, I decided to leave my career as an immigration lawyer in 2014 and embark on an entrepreneurial quest to build and launch LaborLess, a SaaS platform that helps tech companies and other H-1B employers automate and streamline LCA posting and PAF management - an important yet overlooked piece of the H-1B visa puzzle.
Here’s the breakdown of this short article on ImmiTech:
- First I compiled and highlighted the biggest news in the ImmiTech space over the past three to four years, including VC funding, acquisitions and rebranding.
- Next, I explain why I bet my career on ImmiTech, specifically electronic LCA posting and PAF management.
Read what’s interesting, skip what’s boring, and please like, comment and share this article!
Recent ImmiTech investments, acquisitions and growth.
If you asked me whether any specific tech sector gets disproportionately more news coverage, I don’t think I’d have an answer. For example, when Instacart pens a new deal as leverage against Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition, 2-hour grocery delivery is on everyone’s mind. When there Uber / Lyft talk IPO, ride-sharing gets airtime. And so on..
But I was always baffled by the fact that despite immigration being in the news nearly all the time, no one was really talking about ImmiTech. Sure, immigration coverage is more often political, touching on travel bans, caravans and border walls, but there’s also constant chatter about startup visas, H-1B visas and workplace audits - all topics that directly affect entrepreneurs, the tech sector and the business world more broadly.
So here’s a comprehensive list of what’s been happening in ImmiTech.
- Legalpad. This young startup is honing in on the H-1B visa application process. They’ve raised $2.1M to date.
- Global Envoy. This is an immigration CMS that traces its roots to a law firm - their platform helps clients streamline immigration cases. They raised a $21M Series C in October 2017.
- Boundless. This young startup is focusing on streamlining the spousal visa process. I heard about them on a podcast, and they raised a $3.5M seed round in April 2017.
- SimpleCitizen. This startup started out with a focus on spousal visas as well, though they’re exploring a few other visa types. They went through YCombinator and received over $1M of funding as of 2016.
- Teleborder. This startup provided an HR system that managed the immigration process for companies, employees, and new hires. They were acquired by TriNet in April 2016.
- ClearPath Immigration. This startup helped facilitate the immigration process for individuals (i.e. not companies). They were acquired by L1BRE, LLC in March 2016.
- LawLogix. This company offered immigration case management and some compliance tools, and serviced over 1,300 customers worldwide. They were acquired by Hyland in October 2015.
- INSZoom. They’ve been around since 1999 and have a majority of the immigration tech market share, servicing both immigration law firms and employers. They rebranded in September 2017 and moved to a new fancy office in February 2018 to stay competitive.
- TrackerCorp. This is an immigration case management tool that traces its roots to a law firm as well. They also rebranded and updated their logo in 2017.
So there’s been a good amount of movement in the space. But as you can see from the links above, coverage tends to be few and far between, even when there are large exits and sizable funding rounds.
Still, this activity has been the foundation of my own entrepreneurial efforts, and has helped justify my decision to quit a promising career as an immigration lawyer and pour everything into building an immigration tech startup. Because trust me, the immigrant in me wanted to keep my stable lawyer job and pay back all my student loans.
Here is why I bet my career on an LCA posting and PAF management startup.
I knew that the demand was there for better tech products in the immigration space. But I didn’t just want to make another case management platform - there are enough of those and they’re all competing for the same, limited number of clients.
What I noticed, however, was that every immigration case management platform that streamlined the H-1B visa process made one small but important assumption - that when it came time to post LCA notices and create Public Access Files (PAFs), the lawyers and H-1B employers would just figure it out. And for context, an LCA, or Labor Condition Application, is a form that companies hiring H-1B visa workers must submit to the US Department of Labor to attest to paying a certain minimum wage depending on what that H-1B worker will be doing, where they’ll be working, etc. While the DOL is reviewing the LCA, the employer then needs to post it in the office. Most employers actually print a copy of the LCA and physically post it in the office. Once posted, the employer then has to create a PAF to store this form in case of an audit by the government.
In other words, this is a traditionally manual process. But it didn’t have to be. Still, for some reason, immigration software companies have assumed it will stay manual. So while they are streamlining case management until the cows come home, they’re completely ignoring LCA compliance automation!
So this is what I doubled down on with LaborLess. Instead of competing with Global Envoy, LawLogix, INSZoom, LegalPad or any of the other ImmiTech companies I listed above, I built LaborLess to actually complement them by allowing H-1B employers to comply with LCA posting requirements with our software while still using whatever case management software they currently have. I’m also not affiliated with a law firm, which allows me to avoid that awkward conversation when they realize I’m trying to sell them legal services along with software.
And best of all - LaborLess is completely bootstrapped. So while we’ve been motivated and inspired by all the tech companies I mentioned above, we’ve decided to generate revenue first and fundraise later (though the door is always open for the right investor/partner).
I hope this was a helpful overview of the current state of ImmiTech. If there are any startups I’ve missed or relevant news I didn’t include, please comment below, reach out directly or otherwise let me know!