Harry Hurst, CEO and co-founder of Miami-based unicorn Pipe, is apparently stuck in London through at least the end of the year, thanks to a US immigration appointment backlog. But he believes there is a much bigger issue – US immigration reform — that needs to be addressed. And soon.
Despite the fact that he has lived in the US for about seven years on a current O1 visa — approved for the third time in December – and has directly employs hundreds of people and provided contract work to thousands of US citizens, the British-born Hurst can’t get an appointment for a normally quick procedural visit to get the passport stamped. The reason given: Staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic was diminished and now there is a yearlong backlog of appointments.
In a tweet thread, Hurst said he is eternally grateful to America for giving him opportunities “he would never have had in the UK” and he’s not worried about returning eventually – he knows it will work out. But he said he is speaking out now because US immigration is broken and it needs reform.
“My troubles aside, there’s a broader conversation to be had re: how broken the US system is. Immigration is a huge part of what makes America a superpower. The best & brightest want to build there. If anyone has been through this process you know how painful, anxiety ridden and unfair it is. The fact someone anonymous who doesn’t know you reads a 300 page application you put together every 3 years and then singlehandedly decides your fate is terrifying. In one fell swoop everything can be taken away from you, once every 3 years. And that’s if you’re fortunate enough to even get a visa in the first place! It’s broken and it needs to change,” tweeted Hurst.
Within minutes, the tweet thread went viral, pulling in thousands of likes and hundreds of retweets and replies, many from founders with their own immigration issues and snafus to report, as well as tips and tricks. A #FreeHarry hashtag emerged.
Pipe, creator of the world’s first trading platform for recurring revenue, is now valued at $2 billion and is the fastest fintech in history to reach that valuation after its oversubscribed $250 million round in May, which followed a $50 million raise in March. Besides being a founder of a rare Miami unicorn, Hurst was one of the Magic City’s “early adopter” arrivals from California, putting down personal and company stakes here in September. “Miami is our first microhub and we have thoroughly enjoyed investing time here and plan to do so as we scale,” Hurst said in May. “Pipe continues to look forward to partnering with local Miami-based companies to give them access to growth capital and further fuel the vibrant startup scene.”
Since raising the mega-round, Pipe has continued to hire in Miami and for its distributed team. With distributed teams becoming the norm among startups now, the need for immigration reform is ever the more urgent.
“With remote work sweeping the world – the US needs to innovate, and fast. Otherwise talent, tax dollars and IP will be offshored in countries who embrace immigration. The US will become licensee vs. licensor with respect to talent and IP,” he tweeted.
I’m banned from entering the US until next year.
Yep, it sucks.
US immigration is broken and we need reform.
I’ve lived and paid taxes in the US for ~7 yrs. I’ve run companies that have directly employed 100’s, and provided contract work to 1000’s of US citizens.
— Harry Hurst (@harryhurst) July 5, 2021
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