Senators Dick Luger and John Kerry introduced today a new piece of legislation entitled “The Startup Visa Act of 2010.” This visa would permit immigrant entrepreneurs to stay or immigrate into the United States if they have secured “significant” funds to start a new company. The goal of the act is to bring new jobs, opportunity and investment to the US.
To make the visa available, a new EB-6 category would be created. This new visa category would draw from visas under the existing EB-5 category.
One potential sticking point for many budding entrepreneurs is the proposed legislation’s definition of “significant” funds. The bill requires investment capital available from a sponsoring US venture capital or angel investor of at least $100,000 in an equity financing of not less than $250,000. If after 2 years the immigrant entrepreneur can show that he or she has generated at least 5 full time jobs or attracted at least $1 million in additional capital or revenue, then he or she would achieve legal status.
Clearly, this bill is aimed at attracting startup immigrant all-stars. Perhaps the young entrepreneur from Russia who started Chatroulette would qualify. It will also help young entrepreneurs with great ideas who have recently graduated from college who have obtained venture funding.
Most immigrant entrepreneurs who contact my office have great ideas but only limited access to capital. I field a few calls a week from potential immigrant entrepreneurs who have amazing business plans which would be inexpensive to implement, but would fall short of the capital requirements. I am not sure Bill Gates would qualify for a visa under the Startup Visa Act of 2010 if he hailed from Bangalore when he started Microsoft.
Nevertheless, this proposed law is a step in the right direction and I support the bill.
Full Text of Proposed Legislation of The Startup Visa Act