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Hardships for foreign entrepreneurs in the U.S. have increased, thanks to the heightened vetting of H-1B visas, Trump’s Muslim ban and an increasingly hostile stance toward immigration.
After six years at LinkedIn, Vikram Rangnekar wanted to go back to his entrepreneurial roots. There was just one big obstacle.
Rangnekar, a cloud computing developer and former Techcrunch50 winner, was working in Silicon Valley on an H-1B visa. Since H-1B visas are tied to jobs, his options were limited: Get a job at another company or try to get a visa on his own and start a company. Both came with one huge drawback: Any change to his job would reset the clock on his green card application. Green cards are allotted by country; the backlog for citizens from populous countries such as India or China is now more than 10 years.
“We decided the indefinite wait was not for us, and we started thinking about our next play,” he said.
That next play turned out to be Toronto. “The permanent-resident process (Canada’s green card equivalent) is easy, and if you have all the points, it takes less than six months. The government is working hard to help and improve the start-up scene,” he said.
Now happily settled in Toronto with his family, he started a site, movnorth.com, to help others like him. “People who have been in the U.S. for 10 to 15 years and still restricted by a work visa are thinking, where can we invest time and have something more permanent?'”