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HB-1 visas are addressed in a provision of new Startup Visa bill

The Startup Visa Bill was recently reintroduced in Congress. A version of the bill was introduced last year, but never became law. In the current proposal there is a new little discussed provision that relates to certain current non-immigrant visa holders. Anyone who follows employment immigration issues in Florida may already know that holders of H-1B visas are allowed to live and work in the country. But an H-1B visa does not lead to the issuance of a green card.

The new provision in the Startup Visa Act reportedly addresses the potential for brain-drain from the United States. Workers who are in the country under an H-1B visa and graduate from an American university in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or computer science would be eligible to apply for a provisional visa to start their own business under the measure.

The Startup Visa Act acts similarly to the EB-5 visa program that allows some foreign nationals to qualify for a green card after starting a successful business in the United States. The provisions for U.S. university graduates who are H-1B visa holders significantly reduce the costs of participating in entrepreneurship.

To qualify under the proposed measure, a graduate entrepreneur must have an annual income of at least $30,000 or assets of at least $60,000. The foreign national must align with a U.S. investor willing to committing at least $20,000 in a startup venture.

Foreign nationals outside the U.S. could qualify under the revised proposal if a U.S. investor agrees to provide a minimum investment of $100,000 toward a new venture.

Many who are watching the proposal believe it will encourage foreign nationals with an entrepreneurial spirit who are trapped in immigration limbo to try their hands at creating new U.S. jobs. A companion measure is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Source: AOL Small Business, "Revised Startup Visa Act Opens the Door to More Foreign-Born Entrepreneurs," Tamara Schweitzer Raben 14 Mar 2011

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