TurboTax for Immigration Paperwork: Clearpath's Latino CEO Seeks to Make the Process Easier
Latino entrepreneur and former White House fellow Felice Gorordo wants the process for legal immigration to be as easy as doing your taxes, and leads a venture-backed startup website business called Clearpath Inc. to accomplish that goal.
Gorordo is the President and CEO of Clearpath Inc., a company and website that hopes to revolutionize the confusing and cost-intensive process for filing immigration papers. He previously co-founded a national non-profit focused on empowering Latino youth in Cuba and has worked in Liberty Power, the fastest-growing Hispanic-owned business in the U.S.
Now the Latino entrepreneur-led startup wants to make filing immigration as easy as using TurboTax.
Similar to the consumer-minded TurboTax system, a software style often called a "wizard," Clearpath asks users simple questions online to analyze what they're trying to achieve. It then brings up the right immigration forms and inputs users' answers, with the goal of saving time, money, and frustration in the process. The cost per form ranges from about $70 to $200, which is generally cheaper than going to an attorney, but government fees are separate.
Gorordo says Clearpath is great for those who are intimidated by the immigration system, and whose cases are clear and easy to fix, but just like with taxes, some cases still require personal attention. "The wizard-based system has more than 5,000 rules that check along the way to ensure that the user who is applying for the benefit is eligible for the benefit," said Gorordo, a South Florida native, to CBS Miami. If users don't appear to be eligible for the specific kind of immigration application or are attempting to file immigration and the answers they provide raise possible serious legal issues, the Clearpath site refers them to the American Immigration Lawyers Association for more help. The site doesn't charge users if the application process doesn't go all the way through.
Clearpath was launched by a man who really knows his immigration law. Former director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Michael Petrucelli, launched the company in 2008, after he noted how antiquated and confusing the immigration process is - with paperwork often written in awkward, inaccessible legalese.
Petrucelli beta-tested Clearpath for five years, working out the kinks of taking several different immigration processes -- like H1-B visas, Green cards, and citizenship procedures - and making them into a step-by-step process with easy-to-understand language. In 2012, Clearpath raised over $2 million in venture capital, waiting to time its public rollout with the Obama administration's deferred action program for young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
The company hopes that forthcoming Congressional legislation might provide a long-term solution instead of a stopgap, which could create millions of possible customers who are looking to adjust their immigration status. It's also partnering with Latino immigration organizations like UnidosNow and Esperanza to get the word out about the new startup.
As Petrucelli told Bloomberg he started the company to try "to take this process and move it from the 19th century to the present day." Now all they need is for the U.S. Congress to do the same.