Dear United States of America, you know your immigration policy is fucked up when some start-up entrepreneurs are so fed up with your strict visa requirements for people who wish to work, invest, start companies and create jobs, that they propose leasing a ship and mooring it outside of your territorial waters.
This is what is happening with Blueseed, a project to put a start-up office-park on a ship outside of American territorial waters off the Californian coast. They chose the location because of its proximity to Silicon Valley.
- Blueseed caters towards non-Americans who cannot obtain a work visa for the US, but wants to moor close to Silicon Valley to allow regular trips. Well, if you don’t get a work visa, you may get a tourist visa (still a big if, depending on your nationality), but then if you use that to go the US mainland for a visit, you are not allowed to do any work during that time.
- One of the main problems with US immigration since 2001 is that even people who have a visa or who don’t need one because their country falls under the visa waiver program, still get denied entry once they reach a US airport or seaport. Sometimes it’s arbitrary, sometimes it’s because some terror suspect has a similar name to yours, sometimes it’s because the NSA found something suspicious in your e-mails or your Skype chats. – If you recognize that US immigration is a problem, why put up a ship close to Silicon Valley where you will again depend on US immigration for every visit ashore?
- For those who only want to use the ship without visits to the US, there are much cheaper and better options. Many countries try to attract start-up businesses and are extremely helpful with immigration. Estonia, Chile or Bulgaria may not sound as cool as Silicon Valley, but you’ll have far lower expenses and you might even be treated as an entrepreneur, not as a potential terrorist.
- If you insist on staying somewhere from where you can easily try to travel to California, why not set up shop in Mexico?
- Blueseed states that it wishes to position the vessel outside of the territorial zone of 12 nautical miles, putting it in the “contiguous zone” according to the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), but fails to mention (1) that the US has neither signed, nor ratified this UN Convention, and (2) that according to Art. 33 I a of UNCLOS, Part II, “the coastal state may exercise the control necessary to prevent infringement of its [...] immigration [...] laws”.
Overall, the only useful thing I see in this venture is that it points out how ludicrous and harmful US immigration policy is.