Amélie-Sophie Vavrovsky’s experience as an international student who came to the U.S. from Austria prompted her to examine this country’s immigration processes more carefully.
One thing she learned is that many employers decide not to sponsor immigrant employees because of the often complicated legal work that is required as part of a time-consuming process.
This discovery prompted her to further develop an immigration technology platform she built called Formally so that it could assist organizations with legal tasks necessary for hiring and retaining foreign employees in the U.S.
Vavrovsky told Legal Dive her hope is that Formally will become the “go-to tool for immigration compliance and management” for a wide array of employers.
Guided through tasks
A key way Formally can help in-house legal teams is by walking them step-by-step through employment visa processes, most of which require detailed submissions to government agencies.
This technology-assisted functionality saves companies the time and expense of having to create their own processes for completing documents and filing them as needed.
The platform can also eliminate some repetitive work, Vavrovsky said, and it is currently available in 10 languages.
H-1B, L-1A, 0-1A and EB-1 are among the visa types that Formally can help users with.
“It's a pretty comprehensive tool in that it can handle both simpler and more complicated cases,” Vavrovsky said.
Reducing legal spend
Formally, which announced a pre-seed funding round of $2.3 million last year, has been undertaking a private beta with companies.
Vavrovsky, the company’s founder and CEO, said the platform will become generally available to employers this spring.
She noted that some employers have reported that using Formally has drastically reduced their spend on outside immigration counsel.
One of those businesses is the data management company Commvault, which is using Formally to help it internally process L-1 visas for foreign employees whom it sponsors to live, train and receive mentorship in the U.S.
“If you have the internal capacity to compile your own legal cases, Formally is a force multiplier for your legal team,” said Vavrovsky, a graduate of Stanford University and Brown University.
Finding legal counsel
As for those companies that still want to use outside counsel, Formally allows them to bring their lawyers onto the platform.
Additionally, companies can use the software’s lawyer matching tool to find outside counsel experienced in immigration law.
Vavrovsky noted that the platform makes it easy for employers to assign specific lawyers to specific cases.
She said these capabilities are particularly well-suited to startups or other small companies that do not have their own in-house legal teams.
Diverse talent pool
Overall, Vavrovsky said, the platform is likely to appeal to companies that hire employees with specialized skill sets.
She referenced businesses focused on machine learning or self-driving cars as examples of employers who may need to turn to visa sponsoring to find the expertise they are seeking.
Vavrovsky, who was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 social impact list for 2023, said employers wanting to enhance their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts also could find Formally helpful.
Along those lines, she said smoothly handling employer-sponsored visas enables companies to both attract and retain a diverse mix of talented employees.
“It cannot be overstated how important it is to people to get this right and to feel like they are taken care of by their employers,” Vavrovsky said.