Citizens and permanent residents have found that the petition process to bring a spouse or fiancé to live in the United States as a green card holder can be arduous for couples, with some of them getting their petitions denied because they lack secondary evidence to prove their relationship is legitimate.
But some couples have found a way to provide proof of their relationship with the help of a mobile app called Couple, which allows couples to form a digital timeline of their relationship.
The app functions as a private social network for couples. It allows two people who are in a relationship to exchange text messages, photos, videos and sketches. They can also send each other a “thumb kiss” by pressing their thumbs against the screen of their separate phones at the same time, leaving a thumb print and making their phones vibrate. Furthermore, couples can create to-do lists and set up reminders of important dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays.
“All of your memories and all of the things that you share with your partner are all in one place,” Oleg Kostour, co-founder of the Couple app, told VOXXI. “That’s why it has been very useful for these couples that have been trying to use it as proof of their relationship.”
Kostour said that in the last few months, dozens of couples have reached out to the Couple app via email, asking for a data file of their timeline history because they want to include it with their green card petitions. One man who reached out was looking to bring his fiancé to live with him in the U.S. Data experts were able to help him by providing him with the data file of the digital timeline that he and his fiancé share through the app.
How the Couple app was created
The founders of Couple app include Kostour and four former classmates from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. All of them are in their 20s. When they got together to create the app, they never imagined it would come in handy for couples looking to bring their significant others to live in the U.S.
“It was a surprise,” said 25-year-old Koustour, referring to the unintentional use of the app by couples petitioning for green cards. “We weren’t thinking about that when we came up with the app.”
He and the rest of the founders of the Couple app came up with the idea for the app while participating in a startup incubator held last year in Mountain View, Calif. The incubator was hosted by Y Combinator, a venture fund that has provide seed funding for more than 550 startups — including Dropbox, Airbnb and Reddit — since it launched in 2005.
During the incubator, which lasted several months, the founders of the Couple app were away from their significant others, all of whom lived in Canada and in different parts of the U.S. The couples found themselves using various social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as other social tools, like Skype and international text messaging, in order to communicate.
“Communication was all over the place,” Kostour said. “So we decided to kind of simplify all that and put it all into one place — a mobile app.”
The Couple app launched in March 2012, with funds it received from Y Combinator. The app is also backed by about a dozen other venture funds and individuals, including Ashton Kutcher’s A-Grade Investments and Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit.
Thus far, the Couple app has been pretty successful. It already has more than a million downloads to iPhone and Android phones, and couples have used it to send more than 400 million messages to each other.
Originally published on VOXXI as Couple app: Unintentionally helps couples petitioning for green cards