My grandfather was an immigrant entrepreneur. He came to the United States in the 1940’s. With two young daughters to support, he worked his tail off seven days a week. He could have probably made due working just five days a week. But that was not his plan.
The way he figured, the income that came in from those two extra work days would go towards savings–savings that would someday allow him to launch his own business. After a dozen or so years following this well thought-out plan, he launched his own “startup” and would go on to employ an army of workers for the next five decades.
U.S. Startup Visa
I tell you this story because I’m excited about proposed legislation aimed at boosting immigrant entrepreneurship in the U.S. This new legislation proposes to grant a two year visa, called the EB-6 visa, to eligible immigrants (i.e., foreign students in US universities and workers on H-1B visas and entrepreneurs living outside the US) for starting new entrepreneurial ventures in the US.
As Vivek Wadwa of Bloomberg Businessweek, reports, the bill is designed to encourage partnerships between U.S. investors and immigrants in a way that benefits the national economy.
Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who introduced the bill, hope that the Startup Visa Act will attract innovation and innovators to the country, creating jobs and propelling the United States back to the top in the realm of technological development.
This proposed bill would amend the immigration laws in the US by allowing visas to the following groups of immigrant entrepreneurs upon fulfillment of certain conditions:
1. Entrepreneurs living outside the U.S. qualify if an American investor agrees to fund their entrepreneurial ventures with a minimum investment of $100,000. Two years later, the startup must have created five new American jobs and either have raised more than $500,000 in financing or be generating more than $500,000 in yearly revenue.
2. Workers on H-1B visas, or graduates from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or computer science, are eligible if they have an annual income of at least $30,000 or assets of at least $60,000 and have had a American investor commit investment of at least $20,000 in their ventures. After two years, the startup must have created three new American jobs and either have raised more than $100,000 in financing or be generating more than $100,000 in yearly revenue.
3. Foreign entrepreneurs whose business has generated at least $100,000 in sales from the U.S. After two years, the startup must have created three new American jobs and either have raised more than $100,000 in financing or be generating more than $100,000 in yearly revenue.
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—like my grandfather.
If you’re a registered voter who believes in the Startup Visa, voice your support at Votizen website. This group will hand deliver a letter of your support to your Senators and Congressional Representatives.
What do you think?