As children, Yasaman Soroori and Tania Cruz witnessed the challenges that their parents faced when they moved to the U.S., with legal fees being the primary hurdle. Years later, this common experience motivated them to launch a new online platform called Consulta Immigration. Their startup aims to reduce the high costs associated with relatively straightforward family-based immigration applications.
TurboTax for immigration
Consulta is joining a number of other startups launched by international founders that are on a mission to streamline legal immigration and end backlogs.
For example, Formally offers services to lawyers, individuals, and businesses looking to sponsor employee visas. The startup also provides technology to non-profits and has helped thousands of asylum seekers to complete their applications.
As an international student Amélie-Sophie Vavrovsky, the founder of Formally, became well-acquainted with the frustrating visa application process. To date, her legal tech company has raised over $2.3 million.
Seattle-based Boundless, launched by former Amazon employee Xiao Wang, has secured more than $45 million in total funding. Originally focused on marriage-based immigration, the platform later diversified into other visa categories.
Boundless is expanding globally, providing educational materials and resources to customers in their native languages.
“There has to be a way”
Working as a managing partner an an immigration law firm, Tania Cruz, co-founder at Consulta, couldn’t remain indifferent to backlogs in the application process. “There has to be a way where people don’t have to pay so much, go back and forth with the paralegals, and so on,” she said.
Originally from Peru, Cruz knew these challenges too well from her own experience. She watched her parents struggle with paying thousands of dollars in legal fees. Cruz decided to create an “affordable, efficient, and accessible” solution to help other people in a similar situation.
She shared her plans with Yasaman Soroori, her colleague at a law firm and a friend for almost a decade. Soroori, who immigrated twice in her lifetime, first from Iran to Canada and then to the U.S., immediately supported the idea. She had also watched her father scraping funds for their family’s green cards.
“It’s outrageous,” Soroori said. “If you heard how much he paid versus how much our platform is charging, it’s bonkers.”
Paying the price
Consulta offers a flat rate of $500 or $1000 depending on the immigration category, while a traditional lawyer charges a minimum of $2,000.
Users start with a consultation where an expert evaluates their needs. Then, they upload documents and answer the application questions. “We have developed a software that will make the entire process easier and more efficient,” said Soroori.
After the final documentation is reviewed, the paperwork is sent to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Users receive a tracking number and a copy of their final application so that both parties have records. Consulta also provides a timeline and helps estimate processing times.
By now, the early stage startup raised a few hundred thousand dollars from an undisclosed investor. The platform had worked with only around 50 families, but founders envision Consulta becoming the face of family immigration.
“Our platform is still evolving and changing, and we’re hoping to add more services, impact more families, and make something good out of it,” Cruz said. “That’s what Consulta was built for.”