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Geekdom Guest Spot: Matthew Myers

As Geekdom grows, our community’s entrepreneurial reach has expanded beyond the US borders and has gone international! We have everything from established companies to brand new start-ups from across the globe who have set up shop right here in our building.  Nevertheless, immigration can be a very complicated process. To help give us some basics, community member and immigration lawyer Matthew Myers wrote this post to help describe a basic understanding regarding the “legalese” of immigration.

When it comes to noncitizens, many people in the United States have heard generally of immigrants and undocumented aliens.  Under U.S. immigration law, there are actually immigrants and nonimmigrants and those with other legal status (i.e. DACA or asylum).

Most employment-based immigration options require employer sponsorship, and many foreign nationals actually start in nonimmigrant status as an F-1 student, H-1B specialty occupation worker, Trade NAFTA professional, etc. before obtaining an immigrant visa.

  1. Getting your Foot in the Door: Nonimmigrant Visas

Commonly referred by immigration lawyers as an “alphabet soup,” the U.S. immigration system provides for nonimmigrant visa options for almost every letter of the alphabet, with certain letters having multiple variations.  Nonimmigrant visas authorizing work may be issued for a specific duration generally between 1-5 years and at renewal require the petitioning company to prove that the foreign national still qualifies for the position in order to extend the nonimmigrant visa.

Certain nonimmigrant visas have a cap on the years that a foreign national may remain in such status, after such period the foreign national either needs to change to a different nonimmigrant visa, secure an immigrant visa, or return to their home country. For example, the cap on the number of years spent in H-1B status is seven years, and the cap on the U.S. intracompany transfer visa options of L-1A Managers and Executives and L-1B Specialized Knowledge employee is seven and five years, respectively.  Not having the same time restrictions, an alternate option available to companies may be hiring Canadian or Mexican professionals under the TN visa if the job and applicant’s credentials align with a set list of over 60 professional occupations set forth by NAFTA.

Other nonimmigrant visas, such as the H-1B Specialty Occupation visa, have a cap on the number of new visas that may be granted annually. The H-1B specialty occupation visa is the most frequently utilized by tech companies in the United States, but the annual cap on new visas is reached shortly after the beginning of the fiscal year on April 1. Companies who require specialized workers outside of the cap may choose to hire nationals of Chile, Singapore, and Australia. The U.S. signed treaties with these countries that provide for a separate visa category for U.S. companies to petition for nationals of these countries who are qualified to fill specialty occupations.

2. The Holy Grail of Immigration: the Immigrant Visa

The immigrant visa, commonly referred to as the “green card”, is the holy grail of U.S. immigration law, other than citizenship, because it allows the holder to renew permanent residency indefinitely so long as that person remains admissible and a permanent resident of the United States. The renewal process is similar to that of a passport or driver’s license and may be done routinely generally without the legal advice and substantial evidence of continued qualification necessary to extend nonimmigrant visas.

Generally speaking, there is a correspondingly higher level of scrutiny in the self-sponsored or employer-sponsored options to request an immigrant visa, relative to nonimmigrant visa options. These options include the EB-1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, EB-1B Outstanding Professor or Researcher, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa who invest $500,000 or $1 million, or the National Interest Waiver for individuals whose research is in the national interest of the United States who have proven accomplishments in the field.

Community Spotlight: Folo Media

It’s no secret that the Alamo city is in the starting phases of one of the largest population and industry booms of its 299-year history. People and businesses are looking to relocate here, while major companies like Hulu are looking to grow even larger in the Bexar area.

And yet, while all signs seem to point toward a bright future for San Antonio, it might not be available to everyone.

“I’m still pretty new to San Antonio, and I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a place quite this segregated,” writes Patton Dodd, Editor-in-Chief of Folo Media, “the seams between wealthy and poor show here, if you just look out for them a little bit”.

Comprised of three veterans of the news and media industries (Patton Dodd, Alice Rhee, and Benjamin Olivo), Folo examines the growing disparity and inequality between San Antonio’s wealthiest and poorest communities. As referenced on their website, two recent studies (linked here and here) argue that San Antonio is the most unequal city in the entire nation.

“Before we started Folo, we asked a lot of locals what they thought about local inequality, and they responded one of two ways: ‘That’s not something people talk about very much’ or ‘I had no idea’” Dodd said.

It was the surprising responses that led the team to dial in to this inequality and decide to focus solely on exposing and discussing this societal elephant in the room. With the support of the Laity Renewal Foundation and the H. E. Butt Family Foundation, Dodd, Rhee, and Olivo have set out to bring much-needed attention to San Antonio’s most vulnerable and at-risk communities.

“The Foundation tasked us with developing a project that would use media as a tool to serve vulnerable families and children,” Dodd explained, “We tested some ideas that were focused on national concerns, but as we got to know and love San Antonio and understand some of the most pressing local needs locally, we felt that this topic could benefit from sustained attention.”

The downtown districts have already experienced revitalization, and when coupled with Geekdom’s budding ecosystem of professional development and supporting local businesses and start-ups, Dodd knew Folo needed to be in the center of it.

“Entrepreneurialism is absolutely part of the answer to inequality, because people need jobs, and startups tend to provide jobs that pay more and offer more opportunity than jobs from aging firms.”

Dodd continued, “We’re also keeping an eye on the flow of venture capital to see if it spreads throughout the city via things like the Investing in Opportunity Act.”

But while business growth and entrepreneurs are part of the solution, what about on an individual level? For those of us who don’t have the start-up bug, how can we help encourage this vital conversation and begin to reverse this growing inequality in our city? Dodd’s answer is simple:

“Get involved. Local nonprofits do everything from building bikes for kids to serving food and making art. If you spend part of a day volunteering, you’ll make others aware because you’ll be wanting to talk about it.”

San Antonio is currently the seventh-largest city in the country, and although growing pains are inevitable, the Alamo city has all the talent and resources it needs to reverse the trend and spread the benefit to the entire population.

“This problem–systemic inequality–was created over decades, and it will take a long span of time to make systemic progress. Folo aims to cover every aspect of it because we think local citizens and institutions are going to have to throw everything at the problem,” Dodd wrote.

For more on Folo’s philosophy, or to read some of their recent articles, check out their website here, or stop by their office on the 7th floor!

Community Update: Whitecloud Drones

Happy Tuesday everyone! This won’t be the normal community blog post as we have written about Adam and Wes at WhiteCloud Drones before, but we wanted to give everyone a quick update on their recent landmarks and show off some of their latest footage!

The San Antonio Spurs Foundation was one of the first to sign with WCD, as they were in need of footage of the Spurs Coyote at some of the Alamo city’s famous locations to use as intro footage for the Coyote during home games. It wasn’t long before they were asking the pair to film for the Silver Stars, the Rampage, and even allowing them to operate their drones inside the AT&T center during the media day to catch players in the action!

Also, check out some footage here shot with Katt Slagle about the growing importance of STEM education in our youth and adolescent educations:

Finally, Wes and Adam recently had the privilege of collaborating on a passion project with Dodge South central Texas Viper Owners Association to create a breathtaking video of some of their finest driving on Devil’s Backbone, one of the most famous roads in the entire state of Texas, and a favorite among motorcyclists!

With several other projects in the works and other contracts  about to close, Adam and Wes are acting just like the drones they operate and soaring to new heights! Congratulations guys, and keep it up!

2017 Start-Up Weekend

It’s officially the Summer season! That means it’s time to break out the BBQ, Clean out the pool, and shotgun an energy drink because it’s time for the 2017 Start-Up Weekend!!

Starting June 2 at 6:30, participants will have a total of 54 hours to take an idea for a new start-up business from conception all the way to proposal! If you’ve ever had an idea for a business that’s been nagging at you in the back of your head, this event is for you!

Beginning with 60-second pitches, a round of voting will consolidate ideas and participants into a selection of teams that go to work on their shared idea. Teams will take over the 8th floor of Geekdom and use every resource at their disposal to research, brainstorm, analyze, and formulate a business plan that is as close to launch as possible for a final presentation on Sunday.

Food and caffeine will be provided to power through the weekend to keep your mind sharp and your brain churning. Not only that, but we’ll have a team of Geekdom mentors and veterans on-hand to help each team with any questions you might have and to give advice and tips along the way.

Of course, no good idea should go unrewarded, which is why awards will be given out sponsored by companies here at Geekdom! Here’s a quick list just to get you even more excited:

  • Geekdom
  • Biltt
  • Innocenti Jones
  • Key Ideas
  • Pear Analytics
  • Ace Screen Graphics

Each of these companies will be awarding packages tailored to your start-up weekend idea to help boost your business plan even closer to a reality. So what are you waiting for? Why are you still reading this when you could be signing up!?!

First American Fermented Friday

Come by and meet and great our friend from First American Commercial Property Group! They are awesome enough to bring some brews and snacks!

Come by and say hello!



Build it at Geekdom.