November 28, 2012
America’s venture capitalists have spent the past several years begging Congress to make it easier for foreign-born entrepreneurs to enter the United States. The proposal is called Startup Visa, and finally may be on the verge of becoming law. Not on its merits (which are many), but because of electoral politics.
There have been a few different versions of Startup Visa floated, but the general idea would be to provide immigrant entrepreneurs with a two-year visa if they are able to find a qualified U.S. investor willing to invest a minimum of $100,000 in their startup. To keep the visa past the two years, the new company must have created at least five jobs and either (a) Raised at least $500,000 in additional funding, or (b) Be generating at least $500,000 in annual revenue.
Another provision would provide visas to entrepreneurs who started companies outside the U.S. that generated at least $100,000 in U.S. sales over the past 12 months. For such visas to be renewed after two years, the entrepreneur must have created at least three new U.S. jobs. Finally, startup visas could be extended to immigrant entrepreneurs in the U.S. on unexpired H-1B visas or who have certain types of graduate degrees, so long as they have at least $60,000 in assets (including more than $30,000 in annual income), and have secured at least a $20,000 commitment from a U.S. investor. Such entrepreneurs also would need to create three jobs over a two-year period, and either raise another $100,000 in investment or generate at least $100,000 in revenue.