For Here or To Go

It’s 2am on Friday and I’m awake because Brooks the Wonder Dog is afraid of thunderstorms. His approach to them is to literally try to climb under my body while I’m sleeping, which prevents me from sleeping, which results in me watching the Brexit insanity in real time.

Yesterday, we had our own US insanity around immigration as our Supreme Court voted 4-4 on the legality of Obama’s executive orders on immigration. This means that the issue gets kicked back down to the lower court and nothing is likely going to happen on this until after the election. There are so many ironies in this, especially against the backdrop of the potential immigration implications in England of the Brexit, that one can only wonder if our politicians are taking Game of Thrones a little too literally.

It’s easy to view all of this abstractly, rather than think about how it impacts individual people. Two weeks ago I watched a movie by Rishi Bhilawadikar titled For Here or To Go? It was about a set of Indian software developers in the US on H1-B visas. The main character wanted to start a company, or join a startup, but couldn’t make either happen in the context of the current H1-B visa constraints.

Now, this wasn’t a dry movie. While I don’t know Indian culture very well, Rishi created a rich set of characters, interwoven storylines, and a powerful content – including the challenge of romantic relationships while having an uncertain future around one’s immigration status – that drew me in to the movie.

There were several big twists, including the challenges of a large company co-founded by two Indian immigrants, one who was frustrated with the US immigration system and wanted highly educated Indians in the US to go back to India and start their companies there. This intersected with the main character’s romantic relationship and job search, which came together at the end in a powerful way.

Rishi is planning on formally releasing the movie at the beginning of next year. I’ve offered to help, and – like I did with Code: Debugging the Gender Gap – am providing some financing for that effort. If you care about the immigration issue and want to help with the movie in some way, email me and I’ll get you set up with a free full preview screening of the movie so you can watch it and decide if you want to get more involved.

Also published on Medium.

  • Robbie Zettler

    Any suggestions on where I should go to try and watch the movie?

    • It’s only screening privately right now. If you want to get involved in some way, tell me and I’ll have Rishi get you an access key online.

      • Robbie Zettler

        Definitely interested in getting involved. Would appreciate it. Let me know what you need from me to get that set up.

  • JT

    Wow.. I am going to watch this movie because it is exactly my current life. After working on my current startup for 1.5yrs, building MVP, I can’t go full-time on my company due to H1B :(. All 3 co-founders are on H1B. We spent our 401K on outr company and frustrated that we are not held back from traditional startup problems but immigration policy. We are actively debating if going back to India is the only option for us to pursue the startup goal.

    • Rishi SB

      This dilemma is certainly portrayed in the film, understand the frustration. Going back may actually be a liberating option but test the waters prior.

      • JT

        Yup, we are currently going back on 2 month vacation to test the market. Not sure you need anything, but I will be happy help if have any need.

  • James Mitchell

    Let’s see some photos of Brooks the Wonder Dog.

  • US immigration policy is a bureaucratic mess. It’s rife with all kinds of rules and regulations that try and favor political constituencies. If you haven’t read about, or listened to Gary Becker’s idea to change US immigration you should. Supply/Demand means there is a price. Becker wrote seminal work in discrimination back in the 1960s, and I think his work on immigration will eventually be looked upon as a gigantic step forward in thought leadership.