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Offshore Offices to Avoid Immigration Law?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on March 06, 2011 8:02 AM

Immigration law and the lack of H1-B visas prevent many foreign nationals from settling down and getting jobs in the United States. Now, there might be a solution: Blueseed, a Silicon Valley startup, is in the process of raising funds to create a "Googleplex of the sea."

Confused? Broken down, Blueseed's idea is relatively simple.

In order to avoid all the hassle of obtaining visas for immigrant workers, they hope to raise enough funds to send off a massive, floating ship into international waters off the coast near San Francisco. That far offshore, U.S. law would no longer apply.

The floating ship would allow entrepreneurs and tech workers a place to sleep and work. They might even be able to obtain temporary tourist or business visas and take ferries to the U.S. mainland.

The startup was inspired by the shortage of H1-B visas, according to The Wall Street Journal.

H1-B visas are given to workers who are in "specialty occupations." This can include a whole host of high-tech workers, including computer programmers and system analysts. There are numerical caps on H1-B visas.

There aren't limitations on all visas, however. Visas granted to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are not subject to a cap.

Okay, so it makes sense why Blueseed wants to start this floating tech office. Yet, it does sound a bit dubious. Ars Technica spoke with immigration attorney Greg Siskind who said that their proposal is "consistent with the law," though the company may face some uncertainty. The real problem might lie with visits to the mainland. Visitors are subject to immigration inspections.

What do you think -- is Blueseed's Silicon Valley "Googleplex of the sea" an unjust way to skirt immigration law and H1-B visa limitations? Or is it a clever solution to help Silicon Valley businesses get skilled workers?

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