The number of applications for international visas in the U.K. and elsewhere, in order to leave Russia, has exploded following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s estimated that since February over 200,000 people have fled the country, with many observers calling it a “brain drain.” And while it’s possible to apply for normal visas abroad, the reality is of a slow and difficult process. At the same time, most countries now have professional visa programs based on talent — but even then, Visa lawyers can be notoriously slow and expensive.
Now a new startup hopes to capitalize on this flight from Russia and former CIS states associated with the Putin regime.
London-based Immigram is an immigration platform for tech professionals and entrepreneurs that has now raised $500,000 in a funding round led by Xploration Capital. Also participating was Mikita Mikado, a Belarusian founder immigrant to the U.S. and СEO of PandaDoc, Joint Journey Ventures and a group of angel investors. Immigram is also backed by Hatchery, a startup incubator run by University College London.
Immigram’s idea is to build a B2B SaaS platform enabling employers to attract and retain international talent by guiding them through the entire relocation journey. This is from applying for a relevant visa to finding an apartment and getting a bank account. The platform claims to combine legal advice with tech-enabled processes to “automate immigration.”
Core to the idea is Immigram’s scoring system that is geared to the U.K. Global Talent Visa. Since launching earlier this year, Immigram says it has helped 150 clients relocate. This would likely be a lot slower via a traditional lawyer.
Immigram also providing a B2C solution. Unlike traditional law firms that charge by the hour, Immigram says it provides fixed pricing, costs 50% less and issues refunds in case an application is unsuccessful. So far it says it’s been used by execs from Google, Meta, Twitter, Revolut, Bumble and Yandex, as well as founders and alumni of Y Combinator, 500 Startups and Techstars.
Immigram’s founders — Anastasia Mirolyubova and Mikhail Sharonov — who both relocated to the U.K. from Russia several years ago and came up with the idea which is based on the U.K.’s increasing focus on the business and technical aspects of applications rather than the legal aspects.
The United States might also soon introduce a similar option. In January 2022, the House Rules Committee introduced a bill that creates a temporary visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs.
“We are building the product around the immigrant, not a particular country. The global talent shortage amounts to 40 million skilled workers right now, and it’s already affecting the immigration laws and is pushing developed countries to establish new talent visa programs. Our goal is to build an end-to-end global mobility platform that will guide people through the entire journey and help them find a community of like-minded people anywhere,” said Anastasia Mirolyubova, CEO and co-founder at Immigram in a statement.
“We are now at a very particular moment in history when countries begin to compete for people. Immigram facilitates that process by helping professionals fully realize their ambition on a global scale,” added Igor Kim, managing partner at Xploration Capital.
Immigram is also now offering a special service to talented Ukrainian IT specialists to move to the U.K. via the Global Talent route.