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Start Up Visa – Silicon Valley Backs Foreign Entrepreneurs

A new bill — introduced by Senators John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat; Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican; and Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat — aims to give two-year visas to foreign entrepreneurs if they secure at least $100,000 in financing from qualified investors. After two years, the start-up must have at least five employees and $500,000.

The new legislation provides visas to the following groups under certain conditions:
1. Entrepreneurs living outside the U.S.—if a U.S. investor agrees to financially sponsor their entrepreneurial venture with a minimum investment of $100,000. Two years later, the startup must have created five new American jobs and either have raised over $500,000 in financing or be generating more than $500,000 in yearly revenue.

2. Workers on an H-1B visa, or graduates from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or computer science—if they have an annual income of at least $30,000 or assets of at least $60,000 and have had a U.S. investor commit investment of at least $20,000 in their venture. Two years later, the startup must have created three new American jobs and either have raised over $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. Two years later, the startup must have created three new American jobs and either have raised over $100,000 in financing or be generating more than $100,000 in yearly revenue.

The investor must be a qualified venture capitalist, a “super angel” (U.S. citizen who has made at least two equity investments of at least $50,000 every year for the previous three years), or a qualified government entity.

The really good news is that this enables foreign students and workers who are already in the U.S. to qualify for a visa.

There’s a growing concern in the technology community that the country’s immigration policies are keeping talent out, at a time when China and other emerging markets are becoming more attractive. The bill has the support of more than 160 industry investors, including Brad Feld, who started the Foundry Group; Fred Wilson, a Twitter investor; Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn; and Shervin Pishevar, an angel investor.

Let’s support the Bill and make it a reality.