Dodge Immigration Law Via Offshore 'Googleplex of the Sea'

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on January 03, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Blueseed, a Silicon Valley startup, is raising funds to construct a floating incubator that they hope will become the "Googleplex of the Sea."

Their plan is to purchase and renovate a large boat that they will anchor around 12 miles off the coast of San Francisco. There, tech workers can sleep, work, and dodge immigration visa issues.

Does this sound legally tenuous -- or is it simply a clever approach to a common problem?

Immigration is certainly an issue that many in-house counsels grapple with on an everyday basis, especially those that operate in the tech industry.

H1-B visas for your employees may be critical for your company. After all, some of your company's top talent may be coming from foreign countries.

Would shipping off some of your foreign workers to toil on a floating office really solve your immigration issues? It could.

At the same time, it can create new uncertainties. For one, your workers will be on a boat with no real way to get on shore unless they get another visa, such as a B-1 visa. In fact, the B-1 visa is a key part of Blueseed's business strategy . Blueseed founder Max Marty pointed out that B-1 visas would allow workers to travel freely onto the U.S. mainland for business meetings and conferences.

There's also the issue of coming ashore. It's possible that workers might be turned away when they get on land depending on the immigration inspector, as immigration attorney Greg Siskind pointed out to Ars Technica.

Plus, try explaining to your company's CEO that the solution to their problems related to getting immigration and H1-B visas for their employees is to simply ship them offshore. It might be a tough sell. But who knows, perhaps Blueseed's idea is actually the wave of the future.

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