A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced a bill earlier this year that would create a startup visa for international entrepreneurs. It also creates a visa with a path to a green card for international students earning a master’s or higher STEM degree at U.S. universities.
U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) originally introduced the bill called the Startup Act in 2017. If enacted, the Startup Act would:
- Allot 75,000 startup visas annually to immigrant entrepreneurs that raise capital from investors and create jobs in the U.S.
- Create 50,000 visas for international students earning a master’s degree or Ph.D. in STEM fields at American universities. Also offers a path to a green card upon graduation.
- Eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas, which is a provision of joint legislation introduced earlier this month in the House and Senate.
The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) (NVCA) estimates the Startup Act could potentially create at least 484,383 jobs and as many as 1.6 million jobs in the U.S. over 10 years.
Options for International Entrepreneurs
Unlike many other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, the U.S. does not offer a startup visa. After Congress failed to create one, the Obama administration devised the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). President Obama created the IER program as a substitute by issuing an executive order.
Although the IER program operates like a startup visa, it technically is not a visa category. Visa categories can only be created by Congress through legislation. The IER allowed foreign entrepreneurs who create a significant public benefit to receive parole—or a temporary stay—in the U.S. Under the program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) evaluates foreign entrepreneurs based on their contributions to the economy, job creation, and innovation.
Last year, however, the Trump administration began the process of rescinding the rule—an effort that the NVCA challenged in court. Although the rule remains in effect, no IER applications have been approved, and its future remains uncertain.
Innovation at Risk
A recent study by researchers from George Mason University showed immigrant-owned tech firms had “higher rates of innovation” than firms run by U.S. citizens.
Without a startup visa, the U.S. risks losing out on the best and brightest international entrepreneurs. These international entrepreneurs bring innovation, jobs, and economic growth, according to NVCA. In the mid-1990s, startups in the U.S. received more than 95% of the global venture capital dollars. However, they receive just a little more than half now. In 2006, the U.S. was home to the 10 largest venture deals in the world. Last year, China was home to seven of the 10 largest venture deals.
If we can help you evaluate your options to create or grow your startup in the U.S., reach out to us for a consultation. We pride ourselves on our enterprising and creative approach to finding the best option for success.