It’s no secret that the immigration courts are saddled with huge dockets and backlogs, and immigration judges are working with minimal technology. “There is a total of 212 immigration judges, who each handle between 1,500 and 3,000 removal cases,” explained retired U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, a founder of The American Immigrant Representation Project. (She is now at JAMS and is of-counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.)
With the current environment, it can be daunting to apply to become a U.S. citizen, or for a “green card,” especially if English is not your first language. Minor mistakes or missing deadines can result in deportation.
That’s why lawyer Javad Khazaeli, who has dual-citizenship in U.S and Iran, decided to dive in to help. Khazaeli (a first generation American) launched the startup Road To Status with co-founder John Bauschard, the company’s Chairman. The company launched in June 2016.
Khazaeli, who is based in St. Louis, Mo., earned his law degree at Washington University School of Law in 2002, and is admitted to the Illinois and Missouri bars. He spent 15 years specializing in immigration law and policy enforcement, and served in senior immigration positions in both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor. His “daily experiences helped him realize that there was a very large service gap for immigrants caught in an antiquated, expensive, complex, and mostly paper-based system,” he notes in the website.
Khazaeli “regularly saw immigrants in courtrooms who could not afford proper attorney representation if any at all. Even more troublesome, he saw firsthand how ‘notarios’ took advantage of immigrants by charging them legal fees even though the ‘notario’ had no legal training,” he said.
He wanted to offer help to applicants, but he also wanted to help “immigration attorneys, nonprofits, and businesses to more efficiently process applications and cases while passing along savings to their clients, constituents, and employees.”
“My family of immigrants sent me down the path to Road to Status, an online immigration form preparation tool that makes the tedious immigration application process safe, accessible, easy and affordable,” said Khazaeli. “We service both do-it-yourself clients and immigration service providers, often connecting the two. Using our software, consumers can better understand the immigration process, easily complete applications for immigration benefits, and (if desired) connect with our partner network of immigration attorneys for an affordable initial consultation and/or limited-scope review of their application.”
Road to Status is not a law firm, but it provides tools to guide users through each question step-by-step, the site says. “We prepare easy-to-follow instructions so you know exactly the steps to take when filing.” Users then “receive a review from a licensed network immigration attorney for added assurance. The company promises that “if your application is not accepted by USCIS, get your money back, guaranteed.”
Road to Status offers a wide range of topics, including:
- U.S. Citizenship (beginning at $148);
- “Green Card” (permanent resident) issues such as applying, renewing, lost/stolen/damaged cards, removing conditions, (starting at $69 and up);
- Deferred Action for Undocumented Immigrants: childhood arrival. (Starting at $148);
- Family-based immigration (Starting at $99);
- Employment-based immigration (pending);
- Work Authorizations Forms & Travel Documents (Starting at $49); and
- Supporting Administrative Forms (Free).
When asked about why they named the company Road to Status, Khazaeli said, “The name describes the experience or journey that someone applying for immigration benefits must navigate. It is not easy, sometimes bumpy, but hopefully ends with the client achieving legal immigration status. We wanted to be the people and tech to help them navigate the process.”
Khazaeli was recently was profiled at “Startup Snapshot: Javad Khazaeli—Road to Status,” on the Stanford Law School’s CodeX Blog.