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Senators Introduce "Start-Up Visa" Legislation

on February 25, 2010 Source: Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010, Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., introduced legislation to drive job creation and increase America's global competitiveness by helping immigrant entrepreneurs obtain visas to the U.S.

The “StartUp Visa Act of 2010” would allow an immigrant entrepreneur to receive a two-year visa if he or she can show that a qualified U.S. investor is willing to dedicate a significant sum - a minimum of $250,000 - to the immigrant's startup venture.

In addition, the bill would amend immigration law to create a new EB-6 category for immigrant entrepreneurs, drawing from existing visas under the EB-5 category, which permits foreign nationals who invest at least $1 million into the U.S. and create ten jobs to obtain a green card.

“Global competition for talent and investment grows more intense daily and the United States must step up or be left behind,” said Sen. Kerry.  “Everywhere Dick Lugar and I travel for the Foreign Relations Committee, we see firsthand the entrepreneurial spirit driving the economies of our competitors.  Creating a new magnet for innovations and innovators to come to the United States and create jobs here will offer our economy a double shot in the arm – robust job creation at home and reaffirmation that we’re the world’s best place to do business.”

This new bill comes in the wake of increasing calls for rationalizing the U.S. immigration system, with a special focus on immigrant entrepreneurs. PDE has recommended the following approach to boosting entrepreneurship and job creation through immigration reform, as Jonathan Ortmans explained:

To start, considering that most high-skill immigrants have been attracted to the U.S. for its excellent universities, we must encourage them to stay to create valuable, fast-growing startup firms upon graduation. The U.S. should offer instant citizenship to bright young people from foreign countries who graduate from our universities.

We should also refine the EB-5 visa, the so-called “entrepreneur’s visa.” Instead of requiring prospective immigrants to bring cash into the country (the current rule requires $1,000,000 or $500,000 if the company is in a distressed area), the criteria should embody incentives to attract human capital. In particular, the EB-5 visa process should favor those who plan to come and start companies, with the possibility of extension once the visa holder begins hiring American residents. If bringing cash into the country has proven effective for distressed areas and EB-5 visas are seen as effective, create a new E category – the Entrepreneurs Visa.


Category:  Capitol Hill  Immigration 

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