New legislation coming out of Washington could provide a shortcut for foreign-born entrepreneurs. Introduced by U.S. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the law would allow immigrant entrepreneurs to secure visas if their startup can raise $1 million in investment, or generate $1 million in revenue, and create five full-time jobs within two years.
Called the Startup Visa Act of 2010, the legislation requires the entrepreneur to initially raise $250,000, of which $100,000 must come from a qualified U.S. angel or venture investor. The Startup Visa Act has enjoyed bipartisan support, despite a nationwide immigration dispute, as well as the backing of 160 venture capitalists from across the country.
“Global competition for talent and investment grows more intense daily, and the United States must step up or be left behind,” Kerry said in a statement.
The Startup Visa Act would create a new type of two-year visa called an EB-6. It’s a hybrid of existing visas, the H-1B, a temporary visa for immigrants working in high-tech or other specialized fields, and the E-B5, also known as the investor’s visa, which provides a method of obtaining permanent residence for foreign nationals who invest at least $1 million and create at least 10 jobs in the United States.
Supporters say the startup visa would create jobs and increase America’s global competitiveness, rather than helping immigrants compete for existing ones, which is what many argue H-1B does.
The new visa will also ease the threshold demanded by the E-B5, which attracts the wealthiest investors and not necessarily the most entrepreneurial.
Edwin Rivas, an economics senior at Southern Methodist University and an international student from El Salvador, will graduate this month and has come up with a fat list of business ideas he wants to pursue. But current visa options were either too expensive or too restrictive, Rivas said.
So he has decided to take his business ideas to El Salvador, even as he admits the business climate there is less favorable. “The startup visa is exactly what I have been hoping for, but it’s too late for me,” he said. “I wish it passed while I was still in school.”
Nezar Chafni, an SMU finance senior from the United Arab Emirates who will also graduate this month, secured an American job through the H-1B visa. Instead, Chafni plans to go back to his native country to launch a software company he founded here. “If I get something like the startup visa, I would move the company back here,” he said. “I already have people who are investing in my company.”
Source: Dallas Business Journal
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