Neel, a 24 year old from Gujarat, India, who is in the U.S. for school, got an internship in Silicon Valley this spring. He needed help finding a more affordable place to stay, and a friend suggested Homeis, a platform for immigrants that’s a bit like NextDoor. Homeis is organized by “community,” so when Neel opens the app, he sees posts from other nearby Indian immigrants.
He found housing through Homeis in January and started his internship in February, but then came the COVID-19 pandemic. His internship was halted, and he wasn’t sure what else his F1 visa, which is contingent on him being a full-time student, allowed him to do for work in the meantime. He asked around and even posed the question to Quora, but no one had any legal expertise to help. So he turned to Homeis again, and made a post asking what jobs he could do while maintaining his full-time student status. Soon enough, the Homeis community manager told him what he could and couldn’t do within the scope of the law, effectively giving Neel free legal advice.
There is a lot of confusion about what the coronavirus pandemic means for people and their livelihoods across America, and it can be even harder to get that information as an immigrant—especially with language barriers, the complications of visas, and amid fears for undocumented people that are seeking coronavirus testing or treatment could leave them vulnerable to arrest by immigration authorities. With Homeis, however, there is a place where immigrants can congregate online and get the help they need, something people seem to be appreciating greatly in these dire times.
In the past month alone, Homeis saw 350,000 active users, a 300% average growth in daily active usage since the pandemic began.