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Exclusive: Deel acquires immigration support startup Legalpad

Illustrated collage of a scratch off card covered in travel stamps surrounded by stars. Scratch off reads, "USA Lottery".

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Workforce management startup Deel has acquired Legalpad, in a move that adds visa application tech and expertise to the San Francisco-based company's payroll and compliance offerings.

Why it matters: The combination highlights how remote work broadened the talent pool for companies, and added layers of complexities, especially for those work-from-home firms that brought on teams of overseas staffers.

Background: Deel's last fundraising gave it a valuation of $12 billlion earlier this year. Legalpad raised $10 million 2020. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Context: Deel offers a remote workforce platform that allows companies to find, hire, and pay workers in a compliant way in more than 80 countries globally. Seattle-based Legalpad provides legal support to individuals and startups trying to navigate the U.S. visa and immigration system

  • For Deel, it began offering visa processing support in over 20 countries, but currently works with outside lawyers to do so, CEO Alex Bouaziz says.
  • The Legalpad acquisition will allow the company to bring some of that in-house legal expertise and add a tech component to simplify the process of filing and tracking visa applications.
  • The company says it is 66% faster for U.S. businesses using Legalpad to hire people from other countries.

What's next: For now, Legalpad's business is very U.S.-centric, but Bouaziz says Deel plans to integrate its team of mobility experts and expand its software capabilities to support visas for other countries.

  • Deel recently reached an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government to help fast-track employment visas for tech workers moving to the country.

Of note: The visa application process is a pain Bouaziz has experienced firsthand: Born and raised in France, he has lived in Israel, the U.K., and Spain, and has applied for multiple U.S. visas over the years.

  • Most recently, when he came to the U.S. and founded Deel in 2019, Bouaziz says he used Legalpad's services to secure his O-1 visa.
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