Only in Silicon Valley: HR solution that wouldn’t fly in Oz

by Stephanie Zillman13 Jul 2012

Are those pesky visa sponsorships putting a dent in your hiring budget? Has your desired candidate applied for a 457 and been rejected?

Solution: How about your foreign workers live and work slightly offshore on a permanently moored vessel, and fly in for critical business meetings?

This scenario is actually the brainchild of a Silicon Valley tech company, which has applied to build a floating vessel off the coast of Silicon Valley to house entrepreneurs unable to work in the US.

The somewhat far-fetched project, tentatively known as ‘Blueseed’, plans to anchor a large live-in cruise ship 12 nautical miles off the coast of San Francisco where aspiring tech visionaries can live and work without obtaining a US visa. “Blueseed will be a home for tech entrepreneurs around the world who want to come to Silicon Valley but can’t,” the company’s chief financial officer, Sam Bhagwat, told Fairfax. “If you have a great idea and want to come here and grow it into a business, you're out of luck. There simply aren't US visas available for entrepreneurs,” he said.

However, at 12 nautical miles offshore, the vessel would not actually be in international waters and US immigration laws may still apply. However, the loophole is that Blueseed would rest in contiguous waters – a legally ambiguous zone between a country's territorial waters and international waters.

In the case of the US, the contiguous zone extends 24 nautical miles from the coastline. Despite this, chief executive of the project, Max Marty, told CNN they remained confident the project will go ahead. “We are creating a win-win situation, so I believe that the laws will be interpreted in our favour,” he said.

The ship’s residents would be required to hold a valid passport and be permitted to travel to the mainland for up to 180 days a year on either business or tourist visas. While they would not be allowed to earn a salary while on the mainland, they would be entitled to receive money while on-board the ship.

The project has not yet begun, or indeed been approved, but prices for renting a living and work space are touted to range from $US1200 to $US3000 ($1178 to $2946) per person, per month. “It's going to be mostly the young crowd that one would expect is going to be creating the next Facebooks and the next Googles,” Marty said.

Picture: Blueseed concept image,


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