As Immigrant Heritage Month draws to a close, we wanted to highlight another individual who has come to the United States seeking the American dream, and who has contributed to the diversity of experiences and backgrounds that have been a building block of our proud country. Today, we focus on Jesus “Tito” Salas, the founder of CodersLink, a company that connects the best tech-talent from Mexico and Latin America to great opportunities with businesses in the U.S. that are looking to build or expand their team.
Tito was born and raised in Mexico, and first arrived in the United States as a student attending the University of Texas at San Antonio. Having heard about the difficulty international graduates often have in finding employment and remaining in the United States after graduation, he searched in earnest as a student for internship opportunities in order to build a path for future employment. However, Tito soon learned that finding employment while in school can be complicated due to restrictions the United States and Immigration Services (USCIS) places on students seeking employment outside of the university system.
Nevertheless, in spite of these challenges, upon graduation Tito was able to find work through the Optional Practical Training program (OPT)--temporary employment directly related to a student’s major area of study--and began working at Geekdom, a collaborative co-working space in San Antonio, Texas. When his OPT expired (eligible students may generally receive between 12–24 months of OPT employment authorization), Tito received a job offer from Geekdom that required him to focus on connecting Mexican startups to the Geekdom ecosystem. This employment opportunity allowed Tito to apply for and receive a TN NAFTA visa for Mexican (or Canadian) citizens who are engaging in professional business activities.
Through his work with Geekdom, Tito developed many connections and identified a need for U.S. businesses to connect with top tech talent. Thus, he created CodersLink, a company that empowers high-growth companies in the United States to connect with the greatest tech talent in Mexico and Latin America. He recently completed the StartupNext program that prepares startup companies to participate in accelerator programs or raise seed funding. In addition to the satisfaction of being able to form his own company in an ecosystem that only the United States can provide, Tito experiences great rewards as he assists Mexican and Latin American talent in fulfilling their dreams of working lawfully in the United States.
Tito’s experience with the U.S. immigration system has allowed him a first-hand view of both its benefits and its shortcomings; while it has presented him with many opportunities, he also believes that it can be improved in many aspects. For example, Tito believes that more opportunities should be afforded to international students, including the ability to seek and accept external internships that are not only limited to those associated with the university. He also advocates for extending the OPT time period to allow students to achieve additional training related to their field of study. Finally, Tito would like to see a new entrepreneur visa for those who do not personally have a substantial investment to make in their enterprise--as required for an E-2 treaty investor visa--but that have secured or are securing investment from qualified American investors.
Tito shares the following belief that so many others who have come to the United States fervently feel:
While starting a business in the United States requires hard work, sacrifice, and great determination, our country provides rewards for those who are willing to put forth that effort. As Tito says, “if you are successful here, you can be successful anywhere.” We as Americans should continue to encourage those who desire to come to our country to seek a better life and pursue their dreams, as their successes will become our successes.