It can take anywhere from nine months to three years for a would-be immigrant to the U.S. to receive feedback on a marriage-based green card application — and that’s after the laborious process of compiling all the necessary paperwork to apply. Boundless CEO Xiao Wang calls the waiting period “the pit of despair” and today his team is launching a new product in the hopes of alleviating some of that desperation.
The Seattle startup is rolling out its flagship product, a set of tools that make it easier for foreign-born spouses of permanent U.S. residents to apply for green cards. The Boundless platform guides customers through the application using simple questions translated into the user’s native language. Wang says the whole process should take less than two hours and costs a flat fee of $500. Think Turbotax for immigration.
Once the application packet is complete, Boundless has an independent immigration attorney review the paperwork and helps the customer submit it. From there, Boundless provides interview preparation, educational materials, and reminders for deadlines.
“I’m an immigrant,” Wang said. “I came over just like millions of others that have come to try and make a better life for ourselves in America because this is an amazing place to be. There are these extra hurdles for trying to understand how this process works that I am super excited to try and solve for people of all walks of life.”
Traditionally, applicants for marriage-based green cards can either take a DIY approach, researching and filling out applications on their own, or shell out lawyer fees for guidance on the process. Wang says neither of these options are ideal. He thinks Boundless offers “the best of both worlds” combining “the comfort of having an independent lawyer be able to review your application for its completeness with the flexibility and speed and timing of [doing] it yourself in your own time and being able to complete the process much faster than any method traditionally.”
Boundless is starting with tools for marriage-based green cards because they don’t face the same delays as other forms of legal immigration. Wang says the company is also focused on that avenue because it’s a clear problem they can solve for families.
“When they’ve fallen in love and they go through all the steps and complete their marriage, they want to either be reunited with their spouse as quickly as possible or make sure that their spouse can stay in the country,” he said. “There’s a level of urgency and pressing need that we can truly help families with.”
Boundless is a spinout of Pioneer Square Labs, a Seattle startup studio that experiments with new ideas for companies and helps get them off the ground. In April, Boundless came out of stealth mode and announced a $3.5 million funding round, led by Trilogy Equity Partners, and Foundry Group, Founders’ Co-op, Two Sigma Ventures and a handful of angel investors.
Before Boundless, Wang was a senior product manager at Amazon, where he helped build and launch Amazon Go, the Seattle retailer’s high-tech convenience store. He co-founded Boundless with Doug Rand, who was assistant director for entrepreneurship in the Obama White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and Serdar Sutay, a former engineering lead at Chef and Microsoft. Five members of the six-person team are immigrants, including Wang.
Boundless is rolling out its flagship product at a time of uncertainty in U.S. immigration policy. With each new development, the company provides educational materials and resources to help its customers keep up.
“No matter what the government does and what happens in Washington, our job is to make sure that people who are caught in this process or considering this process know how it affects them and knows what they should be doing,” Wang said.