Valar triples down on Petal, leading $55M Series C round into the credit card disruptor

Sometimes raising venture capital can be as simple as talking to your existing investor and having them wire over another check.

When we last caught up with Petal in January 2019, the startup was hot off its $ 30 million Series B round and was accelerating its mission to take on the world of credit cards. Petal’s core differentiation is that it looks at the cash flow of potential borrowers rather than traditional credit scores to assess creditworthiness, helping to identify underbanked users who have the ability to be trusted with a credit card, but lack the formal statistics to prove it.

Well, a lot has happened since then. COVID-19 hit, and along the way, the traditional credit score has been rent asunder as millions lost their jobs, had their hours cut back and changed life circumstances. At the same time, federal stimulus relief in the form of direct payments to taxpayers actually led some credit scores to increase during the pandemic. All of this is to say that underwriting based on prospective cash flow has been a bit more attuned to reality rather than credit scores based on retrospective history.

Now, the New York City-headquartered startup is expanding, and netted a $ 55 million Series C round led by Valar again, which not only led the company’s Series B, but also its $ 13 million Series A round back in 2018. This Series C round closed in April just after the COVID-19 pandemic got fully underway, and is officially being announced today.

Valar, one of the many vehicles in the Peter Thiel capital universe, has staked its claim in the fintech world, backing companies like Even, Stash, N26, BlockFi, Point Card and Taxfix. I asked Petal CEO Jason Gross his thoughts on why he took capital from his existing investors two more times, and his line was, “if you’ve heard the expression, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ ” He continued, “Our view has been that if we already have a really great working relationship, and a lot of support and a dynamic that’s been successful in the boardroom, there’s no reason to necessarily change that.”

Gross said that the company’s model has allowed it to handle the storm of changes that have been underway this year. “It’s allowing us to make credit accessible at a period of time when legacy institutions — traditional banks and so on — are being forced to pull back,” he said. “We’ve been able to continue to accurately understand what’s going on with the financial circumstances of our customers and applicants,” allowing the company to “lean in” this year.

He noted the company has brought on “tens of thousands of customers” since the last time TechCrunch chatted with the company.

Petal has slightly tweaked the cosmetic design of the card. Photo via Petal.

Outside of fundraising and customer growth, the company has been busy. It launched a second office in Richmond, Virginia last year. It “has a really strong, kind of vibrant and emerging technology scene. It is the largest concentration of colleges in Virginia, and it also is a financial-services-heavy location,” Gross explained. Conveniently, it also shares the same time zone as NYC.

Last September, the company raised $ 300 million from Jeffries as a debt facility to finance its credit card, and in February, it recruited Kaustav Das as its new chief risk officer. Das came from small business loan platform Kabbage, which was sold to American Express earlier this year following the heavy economic blow from the pandemic to small businesses across the country.

Petal is now about 100 employees, and the company has been operating entirely remotely since March. Gross says his goal for the next two years is to onboard “hundred of thousands of new customers.”

In addition to Valar, a huge miscellany of funds participated in the round, including “Rosecliff Ventures, Afore Capital, RiverPark Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, GR Capital, Nelstone Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Ride Ventures, Gramercy Fund, Adventure Collective, Starta Ventures and NFL star Kelvin Beachum, Jr.” The company has now raised about $ 100 million of equity capital all together.

Startups – TechCrunch

Nigerian Crypto Startup, Yellow Card Raises $1.5 Million Seed Capital To Expand Operations in Africa – Technext

Nigerian Crypto Startup, Yellow Card Raises $ 1.5 Million Seed Capital To Expand Operations in Africa  Technext
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Dear Sophie: Can we sponsor an H-1B university researcher for an EB-1B green card?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

“Dear Sophie” columns are accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

Our company is considering sponsoring a job candidate for an EB-1B green card. She currently has an H-1B research position at an American university. How long does the EB-1B process take? What can we do to maximize our chances for approval? Could we sponsor her for more than one green card to improve her chances?

— Passionate in Pleasanton

Dear Passionate,

Thanks for your questions. The situation you describe is complicated, so as always, please consult with an experienced immigration attorney to explore your company’s options in more detail. In a recent podcast, I talk about how tech companies can use the EB-1B green card to attract and retain researchers. In a nutshell, yes, you can hire her, and sponsor her for more than one green card simultaneously. Here’s how.

The time it takes for a candidate to receive an EB-1B green card depends on their country of birth. If your candidate was born in China or India, she faces waiting several years for an EB-1B green card unless she already has a priority date. For candidates born in any other country, the EB-1B green card process could still take close to a year or more even if the I-140 green card petition and I-485 adjustment of status form are filed together or if the I-140 petition is filed with premium processing. Regardless, in order for the candidate to remain in the U.S. to live and to start working for you in the short term while your company pursues an EB-1B green card, your company would need to sponsor her for an H-1B or O-1A in the interim.

Before I go into more detail about the requirements for the EB-1B green card and what it takes to submit a strong EB-1B petition, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Since the candidate works for a university, she likely has a cap-exempt H-1B, which means that the H-1B was not subject to the annual numerical cap and lottery. Unfortunately, a cap-exempt H-1B can only be transferred to another cap-exempt employer, such as another university, a nonprofit, or a government research organization. Your company will need to sponsor the candidate for a new, cap-subject H-1B by registering her for the lottery next March. If the candidate is selected in the lottery and the H-1B petition is approved, the earliest she can start working for you would be Oct. 1, 2021. Alternatively, we can work with you to explore options for alternative cap-exempt H-1Bs that you can get any time of year.
  • If the job candidate was born in China or India and her current employer is sponsoring her for a green card, she may be able to retain her priority date, or place in line for a green card, when your company sponsors her for one.
  • With limited exceptions, the U.S. has stopped issuing green cards and H-1B visas to individuals outside of the U.S. at least through the end of the year under President Trump’s proclamations, so the candidate should try to remain in legal status in the U.S. without departing.

To sponsor an individual for an EB-1B green card as a private company (and not a university), your company must already employ at least three full-time researchers and show accomplishments in the field of research. Your company must show that the EB-1B candidate has been recognized for exceptional achievement in her or his field of research.

The candidate must have at least three years of research experience and must meet two of the following criteria:

  • Has received major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement.
  • Belongs to associations that require outstanding achievement.
  • Work or research has been written about in professional publications or other major media.
  • Has judged the work of others either alone or while serving on a panel.
  • Contributed original scientific or scholarly research in their field.
  • Authored scholarly books or published articles.

It’s similar to an EB-1A but a little bit easier.

After working with counsel to determine the two qualifying criteria to focus on, make sure your company and the candidate assemble strong, compelling evidence and documentation. Supplement that documentation with letters of endorsement from experts in the candidate’s area of expertise. Keep in mind that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) evaluates the EB-1B petition based on whether sufficient evidence is submitted to support two of the criteria and the quality of the evidence that indicates the candidate is outstanding in their field. As usual, any documents in a foreign language must be translated and certified.

Your company will need to include the job offer letter indicating the intention to employ the candidate in a permanent research position in their field in addition to evidence that your company employs at least three researchers and has achieved accomplishments in the research field. These are usually pretty hefty packages of evidence and documents that attorneys assemble.

As with any application or petition, retain clear guidance because small mistakes on the I-140 green card petition can delay or even derail a case. For example, make sure you use the most recent edition of the necessary forms. Make sure the correct pages are signed in blue or black ink by the appropriate parties, keeping signatures inside the box so it can be scanned. Make sure your company submitted the correct filing fee amounts and premium processing fee, if applicable. Submit the application packet to the correct address and make sure it can be tracked.

To answer your last question, yes, your company can sponsor a candidate for more than one green card to improve the chances of receiving one.

Both the EB-1A green card for individuals with extraordinary ability and EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) for individuals with exceptional ability do not require employers to go through the lengthy PERM labor certification process. However, they have rigorous requirements. Check out this overview on those two green cards and how to prepare.

Three other green card options have less stringent requirements than the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW, but require PERM labor certification:

For more details on the PERM labor certification process, check out my podcast on the topic.

Let me know how things turn out.

Good luck!

Sophie


Have a question? Ask it here. We reserve the right to edit your submission for clarity and/or space. The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on the limitations of “Dear Sophie,” please view our full disclaimer here. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn Immigration Law.

Sophie’s podcast, Immigration Law for Tech Startups, is available on all major podcast platforms. If you’d like to be a guest, she’s accepting applications!

Startups – TechCrunch

Samsung teams up with Curve to launch its digital-first Samsung Pay Card

Samsung has announced the new Curve-powered Samsung Pay Card in collaboration with global payments tech company Mastercard. This digital-first card is a simple one and provides users complete control over their spending sans the fuss of changing banks.

Samsung Pay Card digital-first card

Unlike the other traditional bank cards, the all-new Samsung Pay Card combines everything in one place. It utilises Curve’s unique technology along with the worldwide acceptance footprint of Mastercard. Samsung Pay users enjoy an improved and better banking experience via their Samsung smartphone and smartwatch and gain rewards as well.

Samsung Pay Card: Notable features

Samsung Pay Card deploys Curve technology and brings both Visa and Mastercard banking cards in a single platform and modernises the banking experience. The ‘Go Back in Time’ feature lets customers move transactions from one card to the other and gives them more flexibility. Customers can get 1% instant cashback along with existing rewards from across a range of brands. On using the card on Samsung.com, customers can get 5% rewards on all purchases.

What’s interesting is that the Samsung Pay Card lets customers access the mid-market rate all through the week and this is much cheaper than the actual currency conversion fees provided by several high-street banks. Customers can have a clear understanding of payments and access transactions made via different cards from the Timeline View in the Curve app. There will be real-time notifications for recent transactions in Samsung Pay.

Doesn’t compromise on security

In addition to these features, there is vault-like security with Samsung Knox and it lets customers enjoy their mobile experience with a lot of confidence. There is always-on and proactive protection and multi-layered defence-grade security providing protection to the finances of customers. When the smartphone is lost, users can instantly lock the access to Samsung Pay Card via another Samsung device sans contacting the banks. Also, the Find My Mobile feature helps find the lost device.

“Now, more than ever, people need a secure payment solution they can rely on. We’re excited to be able to put the control back into our customers’ hands, by launching Samsung Pay Card,” said Conor Pierce, Corporate Vice-President of Samsung UK & Ireland.

“At Samsung we believe in the power of innovation and, through our partnership with Curve, the Samsung Pay Card brings a series of pioneering features that will change the way that our customers manage their spending, with their Samsung smartphone and smartwatch at the heart of it. This is the future of banking and we look forward to continuing this journey with our customers.”

Shachar Bialick, CEO and Founder of Curve said: “The Samsung Pay Card, powered by Curve, changes the game for customers in the UK. By bringing Curve’s unique technology to Samsung devices it empowers millions of Samsung customers to take control of their money, access more choice, and enjoy a banking experience like never before, across all their accounts, without the need to switch banks or limit themselves to only one bank, all from the palm of their hand.”

He added: “Curve is already making big waves in the fintech industry and we are delighted to partner with such an innovative company and bring our powerful digital banking platform to millions of Samsung customers, improving their financial experience.”

Kelly Devine, President, Mastercard UK & Ireland said: “We are thrilled to build on our existing relationships with Samsung and Curve to partner to bring this innovative digital-first solution to market, offering consumers convenience, flexibility and choice over how to pay, all underpinned by the trusted safety and security they expect from Mastercard.”

Main image picture credits: Samsung

The post Samsung teams up with Curve to launch its digital-first Samsung Pay Card appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

Want to start a credit card startup, how do I go about partnering with a bank? Are there popular APIs I can tinker with? Any advice appreciated.

I work in finance and studied CS in college. I want to start a credit card company like Brex (but for something different). It seems I will inevitably have to partner with a small bank partner to start… but where do I go from there? I tried doing research online and there are no great resources I could find. Thank you.

submitted by /u/non_dscrpt
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Corp card startup Ramp launches expense management software

TechCrunch caught wind of corporate card startup Ramp back in August of 2019, when the company raised an early round of $ 7 million. Corp card rival Brex had put together a $ 100 million round just a few months before, and was en route to raising a huge debt round later in the year.

Ramp building a rival service to Brex wasn’t a huge surprise. Startups often appear in waves, leading to groups of startups battling it out for similar customers. We’ve seen this in the file-storage space of yore, to insurtech marketplaces earlier this year.

Ramp launched in early 2020, added more capital, and is today announcing an expansion of the software side of its business by making its card-integrated expense management available to all of its customers.

The startup’s early twist on corporate cards was simple cash back, and a software tool that helped root out duplicate and unnecessary expenses to help companies lower their total expenses. Given that spend-centered startups often generate revenue from customers using their cards, helping those same customers cut costs was an interesting angle on its market.

Now with the expansion of its expense management system to all its customers, Ramp is taking another step in a software-like direction. And as the company also claimed quick growth in a release it shared with TechCrunch, we got back on the phone with its co-founder and CEO Eric Glyman to dig a little.

Spend during a pandemic

2020’s COVID-19 pandemic brought with itself a host of economic disruptions to both consumer and corporate spend. You can easily infer that some startups that provide cards and generate interchange revenue — incomes stemming from users putting their provided cards down at gas stations, restaurants and cloud infra providers — had a bumpy summer.

In contrast to that reasonable expectation, Ramp has seen regular growth, with Glyman telling TechCrunch that his company’s “30-day purchase volume” result has been “growing (month over month) in the double digits each month fairly consistently.” (In related news, online payments-as-a-service provider Finix has also seen quick volume growth in recent months.)

He credits Ramp’s focus on cost control as a driver of its growth.

Which brings us back to the expense management product that Ramp is rolling out to its customer base as a whole today. It’s been in beta for a minute. Per the CEO, some customers have been trialing the product since March, with Ramp “shipping updates weekly based on customer feedback” and slowly expanding access. (Brex also offers expense management tooling.)

Ramp provides both expense software and cards, while many companies have have disparate vendors for each of those services. This allows the loop between spend and expense management for Ramp customers to be pretty tight. The result of the vertical integration allows Ramp customers to save five working days each month, according to the company.

Expense management is a famously poor area of technology. You, reading this, probably have an expense that you need to file. And I bet you’ve eaten at least one bill in the last year because getting it through the corporate-provided system was just too much to handle (is this on purpose?). Hell, I forgot to file an expense earlier this year after travel stopped, and I wound up paying a late fee, and then late fees stemming from that first late fee that I didn’t notice. (Ha ha ha ha, that was great! That was a great use of $ 150 of my own money!)

Anything that can be done to make the employee-corporate-card expense cycle faster and simpler is good news in my book, even if my employer isn’t a Ramp customer; pushing for a better experience in one part of the market should force all participants to do better over time.

Closing on this bit of news, I wonder if cards aren’t de facto commoditized by this point. Is there really that much ∆ between how different corporate credit providers underwrite, or vet spend risk on charge cards? And, aren’t most consumer cards within a few degrees of one another? And then does the software that surrounds the physical or virtual card take on more precedence? Maybe. If so, Ramp is probably heading in the right direction.

More when a provider in the space is willing to share new, material growth figures.

Startups – TechCrunch

Dear Sophie: Can I bypass H-1B and sponsor a grad for a green card?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

“Dear Sophie” columns are accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

A very bright and promising foreign national who graduated from a U.S. university has been working for our firm and just received a STEM OPT extension. We would like to keep her on after her STEM OPT ends. We registered her in this year’s H-1B lottery, but unfortunately, she wasn’t selected.

Given the challenges of getting an H-1B through the lottery and the #h1bvisaban, how can we bypass the H-1B and potentially sponsor her for a green card?

— Eager in Emeryville

Dear Eager,

Happy to hear you’re willing to sponsor a promising graduate from an American university for a green card. Sounds like you’re interested in exploring the EB-2 or EB-3 green card with the PERM process. For additional resources, feel free to check out my recent podcast on PERM.

Just because U.S. immigration policy often runs counter to retaining the best and the brightest college graduates in the U.S. doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Some options exist for these talented folks and the companies that want to hire them, even though many employment-based green cards require candidates who are outstanding in their field. Recent graduates often haven’t yet built up their work experience and credentials, but there can be paths forward.

Although it may present some immigration risks to the candidate that should be weighed carefully in collaboration with an experienced business immigration attorney, many employers have been doing as you suggested: sidestepping the H-1B visa and directly pursuing a green card. This is often due to the extremely competitive H-1B lottery and high denial rates for initial H-1B petitions and extensions. Also, a moratorium on all green cards, H-1B, H-2B, J and L visas for individuals currently outside the U.S. is in effect until the end of this year. This now makes it nearly impossible for most employers to sponsor individuals to come to the U.S. unless their work is in the national interest or essential to the U.S. food supply chain.

So, many people are seeking solutions. First, the basics: Because your STEM OPT employee is already in the U.S., and the H-1B lottery now only costs $ 10 to register a candidate, I suggest that your company continue to enter her in the lottery as a backup option in case her F-1 STEM OPT status ends before you can secure her a green card.

The green cards for which most recent graduates would be eligible require the sponsoring employer to go through the PERM labor certification process before filing a green card petition. Separately there are other green cards for extraordinary ability which I’ve also written about.

PERM, which stands for Program Electronic Review Management, is the system used for applying for labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor . Please speak with an attorney about the timing of this process and consider any risks to your employee’s personal immigration situation given her current F-1 nonimmigrant status.

Labor certification must be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with EB-2 and EB-3 green card petitions. Labor certification confirms that no U.S. workers are qualified and available to accept the job offered to the green card candidate and employing the green card candidate won’t adversely affect the wages and working conditions of American workers.

Without knowing more about your STEM OPT employee’s background and qualifications, I would surmise that she might be able to qualify for one of these employment-based green cards:

Both of these green card categories require the employer sponsor to go through the PERM labor certification process. Because PERM is a complex process and will determine if you can proceed with sponsoring your employee for a green card, I recommend that you work with an experienced immigration attorney.

In general, PERM requires employers to take these steps:

  • Determine in detail the duties and minimum requirements of the position
  • File a prevailing wage request
  • Go through an extensive recruitment process
  • Get a certification

The duties and requirements of the position should be detailed and typical for your company — not tailored to the green card candidate. These duties and requirements will be used for job posting during the recruitment process.

In more detail, employers must file a prevailing wage request to the National Prevailing Wage Center of the Labor Department. The prevailing wage is determined based on the position, the geographical location of the position and economic conditions. The employer must pay the prevailing wage or higher for the position to ensure that hiring a foreign national would not adversely affect the wages of U.S. workers in similar positions. This process can take a few months.

The most time-consuming of these steps is the recruitment process to determine whether qualified U.S. workers are available for the position. To do that, an employer must advertise the job in two Sunday editions of a local newspaper, submit a job order with the state workforce agency (CalJOBS in California) and file an internal company notice of the filing. Plan ahead with your legal team to consider running some things in parallel to decrease the overall time.

For professional positions, employers need to use three additional recruitment methods, such as using a job recruiting website, an employment firm, a job fair, a posting at a career placement center at a local university or college, or incentives for employee referrals.

The job order with the state workforce agency must run for at least 30 consecutive days. The internal job posting must be up for 10 consecutive business days. Employers must allow 30 days for candidates to apply and interview U.S. workers who apply.

Generally, if there are no qualified applicants, employers then file ETA Form 9089 to the Labor Department. No supporting documents need to be submitted with the form, but the documents must be maintained for five years, especially as there could be an audit. The Labor Department will send a verification email to the employer along with a sponsorship questionnaire, which the employer should fill out within a week of receiving it. It’s important to not miss this email!

The PERM process can take anywhere from three to eight months as long as the Labor Department does not audit your case. The Labor Department conducts two types of audit: random audits and targeted audits. Random audits are done to make sure employers are following the PERM procedure.

Some common reasons for targeted audits could include:

  • The employer recently laid-off employees
  • The candidate appears unqualified for the position
  • The job does not require a bachelor’s degree
  • A company executive is related to the candidate

The Labor Department usually issues an audit notice within six months of receiving the labor certification application, and the employer must respond within 30 days. An audit does not mean an employer’s PERM will not be approved. However, it can add nine to 18 months to the process. If an employer does not respond to the audit notice, the Labor Department will deem the case abandoned, and for any future PERM applications, the employer may be required to conduct supervised recruitment.

Once the Labor Department approves the PERM Labor Certification for that position, you must file the green card petition to USCIS within 180 days. If your employee was born in any country other than China or India and you are sponsoring her for an EB-2 green card, you can file the I-140 green card petition and the I-485 adjustment of status from F-1 STEM OPT to EB-2 at the same time, assuming the “priority date” is still current.

If eligible, your STEM OPT employee could also enter the diversity green card lottery in the fall to increase her chances of getting a green card. Each year, 50,000 green cards are reserved for individuals born in countries that have low rates of immigration to the U.S.

Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

— Sophie


Have a question? Ask it here. We reserve the right to edit your submission for clarity and/or space. The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on the limitations of “Dear Sophie,” please view our full disclaimer here. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn Immigration Law.

Sophie’s podcast, Immigration Law for Tech Startups, is available on all major podcast platforms. If you’d like to be a guest, she’s accepting applications!

Startups – TechCrunch

Point wants to provide credit card rewards with debit cards

Point, a new challenger bank in the U.S., is launching publicly today with an invite system. While Point is technically providing a bank account, the company focuses on rewards associated with a debit card.

“I started Point as a solution about everything that is frustrating and complicated about credit cards. The incentives between credit card companies and cardholders are misaligned,” Point co-founder and CEO Patrick Mrozowski told me.

When Mrozowski first got a credit card, he was spending a ton of money to reach a certain level of spending and unlock the sign-up bonus. At the end of the month, he ended up with credit card debt for no valid reason.

“What would American Express look like today?” he says to sum up Point’s vision. It comes down to two important principles — being in charge of your budget so that you don’t end up with debt and unlocking rewards from brands that you actually interact with.

Many challenger banks want to provide a simple banking experience for the underbanked. Point doesn’t have the same positioning. Creating a Point account is more like joining a membership program.

When you sign up, you get a debit card with some level of insurance as it’s a Mastercard World Debit card. You can expect some trip cancellation insurance, rental car insurance, purchase insurance, etc.

As the name of the startup suggests, you earn points with each purchase. You get 5x points on subscriptions, such as Spotify and Netflix, 3x points on food, grocery deliveries and ride sharing, and 1x points on everything else. Points can be redeemed for dollars — each point is worth $ 0.01. In addition to that, Point is going to create a feed of offers with discounts, content, events and more.

Due to its premium positioning, Point isn’t free. You have to pay $ 6.99 per month or $ 60 per year to join Point. Point doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.

You can connect your Point account with another bank account using Plaid. It lets you top up your account using ACH transfers. Behind the scenes, Point works with Radius Bank for the banking infrastructure, an FDIC-insured bank.

The company announced earlier this month that it has raised a $ 10.5 million Series A led by Valar Ventures with Y Combinator, Kindred Ventures, Finventure Studio and business angels also participating.

Image Credits: Point

Startups – TechCrunch

Dear Sophie: How can I speed up getting a green card?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

“Dear Sophie” columns are accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

I’m in the U.S. on an H-1B visa. My employer won’t sponsor me for a green card, so I’m looking to apply for one on my own. My husband and I are both citizens of Germany, but I was born in India. I’ve heard that people born in India face waiting decades for a green card. Is there any way to minimize the wait?

— Dedicated in Daly City

Dear Dedicated:

Thanks for your question. It’s great to hear you want to pursue a green card on your own. As always, I recommend that you contact an experienced immigration attorney to help guide you through the green card application and interview process.

I’ll discuss the green card options that don’t require you to have an employer or family sponsor and lay out a few tricks that might support you to minimize your wait time for a green card. For more details on these strategies, listen to my podcast on priority dates.

As you may know, your country of birth — rather than your country of citizenship — is what counts when assessing your eligibility for a green card and how long it will take to get one.

All green card categories — except for those for the spouse, parents and dependent children of U.S. citizens — have a cap on the number that can be issued each year. In addition, these categories have a per-country limit of 7% of the total number available. Because the demand in most green card categories from individuals born in India far exceeds the supply for that country, the wait times are excessively long for individuals who were born there.

For individuals who must wait for a green card, their priority date determines their place in the green card line. If you self-petition for a green card, your priority date is when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives your initial green card petition.

Startups – TechCrunch