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Silicon Valley's Y Combinator Funds 'Turbotax for Immigration'

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on July 06, 2016 3:57 PM

Y Combinator, one of the most popular funding entities in Silicon Valley, has decided to send its money into the coffers of a company that's trying to become the 'Turbotax for immigration.' The company in question is SimpleCitizen. And if the Y Combinator is correct, this could be big news for the future of immigration law.

Let the Supply Meet the Demand

Silicon Valley is certainly the right place to start a legal-tech company with a focus on immigration. With the demand for highly skilled foreign workers in Silicon Valley reaching scary levels, it's basically a given that demand for skilled immigration attorneys is probably at an all-time high.

The company's founders estimate that the annual number of foreign applications to enter the United States approaches 3 million. And despite the U.S. government throwing money at the online application site, it is still not close enough for government work.

Immigration Lawyers: Not Cheap

Immigration lawyers can be expensive. But foreign-born skilled workers also tend to be frugal with their money, so a demand for a "Turbotax for Immigration" is surely present. Many run-of-the-mill immigration cases can be a minimum of $2,000 up to several tens of thousands of dollars if appearances before the IJ are anticipated.

SimpleCitizen, however, is trying to entice people at a much lower price point by automating much of the paperwork. According to Above the Law, the company is currently working with Jacob Sapochnick, an immigration attorney, to review the documents -- with an aim to teach the system how to handle more run-of-the-mill cases in the future. Like Turbotax, the aim is to make the process as painless as possible. Currently, the basic process looks to be offered at around $249.

A Fine List of Companies

Legal-tech startups and their products are all the talk and are also a bane within the legal community these days. Y Combinator has also been the funding of many other legal-tech companies in Silicon Valley as of late, including CaseText, SimpleLegal, Willing and ROSS Intelligence.

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