Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Startup Visa Act is proposed United States legislation that would allow foreign entrepreneurs to get a visa and move to the US.Making it easier for immigrants to start businesses in the US would be a boon for America, as it competes in a networked global economy which is increasingly driven by talent and entrepreneurship. Many of the greatest entrepreneurial successes in America (and by extension, the world) were started by immigrants.
As a French entrepreneur who would like to move to the US some day, I opposed the original Startup Visa Act.
Why? Because the original version of the bill premised the visa on on obtaining funding from venture capitalists or business angels. It’s not just a bad idea because VC-funded companies are a small subset of the fastest growing companies, but also because it makes what is an already unequal relationship (entrepreneur and investor) even more unequal by letting the investor decide not just the fate of your business but of your very life.
Now a new version of the bill has appeared and it’s a marked improvement, as entrepreneurship researcher Vivek Wadhwa points out. The new bill would grant a visa to the following people:
- Entrepreneurs living outside the U.S.—if a U.S. investor agrees to financially sponsor their entrepreneurial venture with a minimum investment of $100,000. Two years later, the startup must have created five new American jobs and either have raised over $500,000 in financing or be generating more than $500,000 in yearly revenue.
- Workers on an H-1B visa, or graduates from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or computer science—if they have an annual income of at least $30,000 or assets of at least $60,000 and have had a U.S. investor commit investment of at least $20,000 in their venture. Two years later, the startup must have created three new American jobs and either have raised over $100,000 in financing or be generating more than $100,000 in yearly revenue.
- Foreign entrepreneurs whose business has generated at least $100,000 in sales from the U.S. Two years later, the startup must have created three new American jobs and either have raised over $100,000 in financing or be generating more than $100,000 in yearly revenue.
The last item is the key one. It should be possible for entrepreneurs to move to the US if they can raise money from US investors, but also if they build a business that can be evaluated on the basis of revenues and profits. This frees the entrepreneur from being at the mercy of a VC, and broadens the universe of entrepreneurs who can apply.
No bill is perfect, but this is a great improvement and its passage would be a boon for America, and thousands of men and women.
Previously: The Startup Visa Act Must Be Stopped
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