For people immigrating to the United States, the process of obtaining legal citizenship can be near-impossible to navigate without spending thousands of dollars on an attorney. However, one Miami-based startup aims to make the process a little bit easier.
CEO Felice Gorordo, the son of Cuban immigrants, hopes that Clearpath can transform and simplify a complicated system. "This is a community preyed upon by predatory scams for way too long," he told NBC Latino. "We are helping add transparency to the system and make information accessible to the user."
Gorordo, who previously worked for the Bush and Obama administrations, partnered with Michael Petrucelli, the former Director of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services from 2003-2005, on the website. The Clearpath software guides users through a question-based service which allows them to easily navigate 30 immigration forms. Gorordo told NBC that it also has a toggle function which switches between English and Spanish.
Clearpath users can expect to pay fees up to $200, although it depends on the case. For comparison, it can cost up to $5,000 for a legal immigrant to file for citizenship.
The service has faced some criticism, as it acts as a lawyer without license, and mistakes could lead to deportation. However, Gorordo says his software doesn't choose the forms to fill out. His users must already know which forms to fill out, and the software will guide them through the completion of the documents. "We are just trying to offer an affordable and secure solution for those who can't afford an attorney," he said. "We are not competing with lawyers, we are trying to complement their work."
The U.S. government hopes to follow in Clearpath's footsteps in the coming years. By 2019, they hope to have a working online immigration application system called ELIS, or Electronic Immigration System. However, for now, immigrants must file by printing and mailing their immigration documents. Read more about Clearpath at NBC Latino.