Will startup visa boost entrepreneurship?

By Guest Contributor
March 21, 2011

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

The immigration debate continues: Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar have reintroduced a startup visa bill into Congress.

The bill, which has been modified since it first burst onto the scene last year, is designed to encourage partnerships between U.S. investors and immigrants in a way that benefits the national economy. The Senators 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.

Will the startup visa bill have the desired effect?

Under the proposed bill, a foreign national living abroad will be given a startup visa if he can raise $100,000 from a U.S. investor to start a business. If the immigrant is already in the country on an employer-sponsored H-1B visa, or a recent graduate from a U.S. university in math or science, and has an annual income of at least $60,000 along with $20,000 from a U.S. investor, a startup visa will also be granted.

Those with startup visas must created a certain number of jobs and meet certain revenue/financing requirements within two years to maintain startup visa eligibility.

What’s interesting about this bill is that the U.S. investor must be a qualified venture capitalist. This means that the citizen must have invested $50,000 every year for the previous three, explains TechCrunch. This requirement means that those seeking startup visas are tapping into an already existing entrepreneurial market – this does not increase the investment pool.

However, a large percentage of technology and engineering firms launched since the 1990′s have been founded by at least one immigrant according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s possible that making it easier for those immigrants to remain in the U.S. will impact how American entrepreneurs make their decisions. If their business partners can be physically present, they may be more apt to initiate a startup.

Only time will tell just how much of an impact the startup visa will have on U.S. entrepreneurship, but as TechCrunch believes, it could very well encourage foreign students and workers to give entrepreneurship a try.

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This start up visa bill could really do a lot for the US economy and technology environment, currently lagging behind other markets in the world.
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