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.
I work at a tech company, married a U.S. citizen two years ago and got a two-year green card. The relationship went south and I needed to leave to protect my daughter and me. I want to get divorced, but can we keep our green cards?
Will we be able to apply for U.S. citizenship?
— Hopeful in Hayward
Thank you for reaching out and sharing the story of your courage to do the right thing for yourself and your child. Good news — U.S. immigration laws have been designed to protect individuals who have been subject to abuse or extreme cruelty, which is not limited to physical harm but can also include emotional abuse. So, yes, you and your daughter can apply for a permanent green card even if you divorce your U.S.-citizen spouse. And yes, you can also apply for U.S. citizenship when you are eligible. My law partner, Anita Koumriqian, and I discuss the naturalization and citizenship process in more detail in this podcast.
You will need to file a petition (Form I-751) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to seek to have the conditions on your and your daughter’s two-year conditional green card removed. Usually, individuals with a conditional green card must file a petition within 90 days of when the conditional card is set to expire. However, an abused spouse or the parent of an abused child can file this petition at any time. I recommend consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer before filing this petition. You will be allowed to have your attorney go with you to the USCIS interview that will be required as part of this process.
Conditional green cards cannot be renewed. Individuals who fail to file a petition to remove the conditions run the risk of being deported. Once the conditions are removed, a green card will be valid for 10 years. This process can involve extensive documentation and the possibility of attending an in-person interview. One of the reasons that it’s important to speak to an immigration attorney about this process, especially in California, is because divorce can take at least six months and the timing of the legal processes can affect the outcome of your green card.
Down the road, when the time comes for citizenship, here are the requirements to apply for the naturalization process. You must have:
We all know times are incredibly tough, and everyone’s working overtime on steroids to keep their startup dreams alive. Disrupt events have a reputation for serving up a tasty helping of fun along with the main dish: opportunity. We refuse to host virtual conference without providing time for levity, swag and kick-ass entertainment.
TechCrunch Trivia on Trivia Royale
It’s time to get your trivia on, startup fans. Download the Trivia Royale app (Google Play) (App Store) and start playing TechCrunch Trivia. It’s live right now and runs throughout Disrupt 2020. What’s a trivia battle without a prize? Boring, that’s what. Whoever ranks number one on the leaderboard at 1 p.m. (PT) on September 18 receives a TC Swag Bag mailed to their location. Nobody swags like TechCrunch.
Wave XR Concert with Lindsey Stirling
Did someone say kick-ass entertainment? Why, yes — yes, we did. Get ready for a live, virtual concert on Wednesday, September 16 at 1:30-2:30 p.m. (PT).
We’re tapping Wave technology to present Lindsey Stirling, an American violinist, songwriter and dancer. She’s racked up tens of millions of followers worldwide and more than 3 billion total views on YouTube. Stirling is a performing powerhouse who’s latest album “Artemis” debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums Chart.
Wave specializes in creating live, immersive virtual concerts. The company combines “cutting-edge gaming and broadcast technology with an interactive concert experience to help fans and artists more deeply connect with each other and express themselves in innovative ways.”
Wave has clearly tapped into something big, as indicated by Lindsey Stirling most recent concert. More than 400,000 people, across YouTube, Twitch and Lindsey’s own Facebook page, tuned in to her performance.
Don’t miss your chance to have some fun while you increase your startup skills, learn the latest tech trends, expand your network, meet with investors and drive your business forward. Buy your pass today and get ready for five days of Disruption.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, many U.S. workers will eventually return to their offices.
But when they do, their big-city workplace will not only have a smaller footprint and operational strategy, it might be in a different town altogether, according to a recent TechCrunch survey of top real estate and proptech investors.
TechCrunch surveyed nine investors who are writing checks today for startups in the sector. Optimism still runs high for startup hubs as well as supercities like New York and San Francisco. However, the move towards e-commerce and remote work — a trend that started before COVID-19 upended the way people live, work and play — has accelerated.
The responses below get into these and other looming matters, such as the role that government support is playing to support the market … for now. Next week, we will publish the second installment of responses focused on the opportunities and risks for startups that these investors are betting on (or not).
- Clelia Warburg Peters, venture Partner at Bain Capital Ventures
- Brad Greiwe and Brendan Wallace, co-founders and managing partners, Fifth Wall
- Zach Aarons, co-founder and general partner, MetaProp
- John Helm, managing director, Real Estate Technology Ventures
- Adam Demuyakor, co-founder and managing director, Wilshire Lane Partners
- Casey Berman, founder and managing director, Camber Creek
- Florian Reichert, partner, Picus Capital
- Stonly Baptiste, co-founder and partner, Urban Us
- Andrew Ackerman, managing director, DreamIt Ventures
For additional context on where top investors believe the market is headed, be sure to check out our real estate and proptech investor survey from late March and the previous ones from late last year (when everyone thought 2020 would be something different).
Clelia Warburg Peters, venture partner at Bain Capital Ventures
Early evidence suggests that there is a reversal of the New Urbanism movement that defined the past several decades in the U.S., with the pandemic combining with existing trends in this direction. How will this migration affect your investment decisions, especially given foundational changes to residential, office and retail? How does this compare with what you may be seeing in other countries?
There is no doubt that in the United States the pandemic is serving as an accelerant in the ‘diffusion’ of the model where economic activity is concentrated in a few primary urban centers. This diffusion was already underway – so-called ‘secondary’ or ‘tertiary’ cities have been growing in population and economic relevance for more than a decade. But I do think this is a period which will likely cement the permanent significance of many of those cities, where people feel like they can live more comfortably and affordably while enjoying many of the benefits of urban living (jobs, culture, restaurants, and walkability). I actually think this in line with the new urbanism movement – which emphasized the need to make cities more walkable, green, and friendly for living and not just working.
I also don’t see the pandemic altering people’s feeling or perception about the appeal of the ‘1950’s suburban ideal’ in which someone (usually a father in a grey suit) commutes daily into a nearby urban center of activity – in fact, I think what the current interest in the suburbs confirms is that people don’t want to commute and that they feel more interested in suburban environments as they imagine them transitioning into ‘mini-urban’ environments where commuting is limited, ideally, there is walkability, and where they have access to restaurants, culture and shopping through a mix of local and digital experiences.
I think technology is going to be a significant part of the transitions in how we live and work in the next few years, and I am bullish about Proptech during this period. There was always the anticipation that, across the industry, tech adoption would be accelerated during a downturn because tech can often drive efficiency and bring down costs. I think the pandemic will serve as an accelerant to this as well, and will also allow more disruptive models in both the residential and office sectors to gain greater market share. (In an environment where business as usual doesn’t exist, I think tenants and consumers are going to be more willing to experiment). On the office side, so far we are seeing an investment bump primarily focused around technologies that support the back to work experience on the office side, but I think we will start to see much more dynamic models evolve.
The U.S. is unique in that we have so many layers of urban models – some of this disruption will not be as great in other countries where the country itself really has only 1 or 2 primary cities or conversely, where the contrast between the economic development of cities and the countryside is really stark. (I don’t think you will see as much discussion of the idea that everyone is going to leave London in the UK – there just isn’t another area which has the same multi-faceted infrastructure. Nor is this ‘flee the cities’ discussion relevant in China or other areas where it would be logistically difficult to work in the same way outside of many urban environments). This may mean that office and retail are less impacted in these places, and this combined with the fact that these countries are emerging from the pandemic more smoothly, may make international expansion a priority for a lot of Proptech start-ups.
More specifically, startup hubs have been synonymous with superstar cities like San Francisco and New York — do you see the centers of innovation spreading out more widely, to smaller cities, college towns, versus the last decade?
I do believe that startup hubs will continue to spread out more widely, but I do also think that venture is a business that is heavily reliant on networks and relationships, so I think these ‘hives’ will not disperse as quickly as roles in many other industries.