• Congressional Bill (Start-Up Visa Act) Seeks to Drive Job Creation via International Entrepreneurs
  • April 23, 2010 | Authors: Deeba Anwari; Stanley D. Brener; Rebecca B. Conner; Andrew H. Donovan; Grant S. Grayson; Dwight F. Hopewell; Christopher J. Lange; David M. Lay; Gary D. LeClair
  • Law Firms: LeClairRyan - Richmond Office ; LeClairRyan - Newark Office ; LeClairRyan - Blacksburg Office ; LeClairRyan - New York Office ; LeClairRyan - Blacksburg Office ; LeClairRyan - Richmond Office
  • A new bill in Congress is seeking to drive job creation and increase the country's global competitiveness by making it easier for international entrepreneurs to secure visas to the United States. On February 24, 2010, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced the Start-Up Visa Act of 2010, a bill which will allow an international entrepreneur to receive a two-year visa if he or she can show that a qualified U.S. investor is willing to dedicate a significant sum - a minimum of $250,000 - to the entrepreneur's startup venture.

    The Act would amend immigration law to create a new EB-6 category for immigrant entrepreneurs, drawing from existing visas under the EB-5 category, which permits foreign nationals whose investment of at least $1 million (and in many cases $500,000) into the U.S. leads to the creation of ten jobs to obtain a green card. After proving that he or she has secured initial investment capital and if, after two years, the entrepreneur can show that he or she has generated at least five full-time jobs in the United States, attracted $1 million in additional investment capital or achieved $1 million in revenue, then he or she would receive permanent legal resident status.

    The bill's proponents state that international entrepreneurs building companies in the U.S. not only create raw value in their companies in the form of dividends, they can also help to more closely knit economies and countries. Others say the legislation would help the country compete for talent and create new companies that would employ U.S. workers at a time when joblessness is rampant. In 2009, the percentage of U.S. residents forming new domestic companies fell to 8 percent from 12.4 percent in 2005, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Over the same period, the percentage of residents in foreign countries tracked by the group who are creating new companies rose to 11 percent from 8.7 percent. "You see entrepreneurs in China and India regularly starting up ventures," Senator Kerry writes. "We want to bring those strong ideas to the United States to create jobs here at home."

    According to a 2006 study commissioned by the National Venture Capital Association, 25 percent of U.S. public companies that were venture-backed were founded by immigrants. These companies include eBay, Google, Yahoo and Intel. It is further estimated that close to 50 percent of current venture-backed companies were founded by international entrepreneurs.