British CEO of $2B startup blocked from US by ‘broken’ immigration system

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The British co-founder and CEO of a $2 billion Miami-based startup says he can’t get back into the US because of what he called the “broken” US immigration system.

“I’m banned from entering the US until next year. Yep, it sucks,” tweeted Harry Hurst, the co-CEO of Pipe, which helps startups with recurring revenues get capital.

“US immigration is broken and we need reform,” he added.

Hurst said he was already approved for his latest O-1 visa, the third one he’s gotten, in December. O-1 visas are reserved for people with “a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement,” according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

However, Hurst said, he now can’t get an appointment at the US Embassy in London to get the visa actually stamped into his passport. He said that in the past, that part of the process “has always been merely procedural.”

The embassy said it’s understaffed and that he won’t be able to make an appointment until next year, according to Hurst.

“It turns out, during COVID the embassy operated a week on, week off schedule so now they’re over a year behind on appointments,” he said in a Twitter thread. “They will give emergency appointments, but I’ve tried and I apparently don’t qualify – though there’s no guidance on what does qualify either.”

Hurst noted that he’s made huge contributions to US society during his career as an entrepreneur. Before co-founding Pipe, Hurst started an on-demand car-rental service called Skurt about seven years ago.

“I’ve lived and paid taxes in the US for ~7 yrs,” he wrote. “I’ve run companies that have directly employed 100’s, and provided contract work to 1000’s of US citizens.”

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