Qualifying for the Startup Visa
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Kauffman Foundation economist Robert E. Litan argues the "Startup Visa Act" introduced recently by Senators John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R., Ind.) should be broader to fully capture the job-creation potential of immigrant entrepreneurs. In particular, Litan argues that job creation, not money, should be the criterion for qualifying for the new visa.
The bill would grant a two-year visa for immigrant entrepreneurs whose firms attract at least $250,000 in angel or venture capital financing. Litan says such a monetary threshold "sets the bar too high" for most immigrants to reach; fewer immigrant entrepreneurs would mean fewer jobs created. He cites as an example Google co-founders Sergey Brin, an immigrant, and Larry Page, who borrowed funds from their own credit cards.
As a solution, Litan proposes a true "job creator's visa" that is tied directly and only to job creation by new immigrant entrepreneurs. The visa could be temporary for immigrants who are already in the United States on another visa and who establish a business. Immigrants would be allowed to extend the visa if the individual's firm hires at least one American non-family resident and would become permanent once the enterprise crosses a certain job threshold (such as five or ten workers).