A bill to provide a new pathway to citizenship for foreign nations was introduced in the U.S. Senate in late January. The measure, known as the Startup Visa Act, has previously been introduced-but like many immigration reform measures, the Startup Visa Act did not fare well on a couple of prior trips in the Senate in Washington. D.C. However, with new interest in the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, ideas are making their way back into the public debate on Capitol Hill.
Many commentators say that business-based visas are important to Florida's economy and important at the federal level as well. This blog has previously discussed the benefits that developers have found through the EB-5 visa program, where foreign investors can obtain a provisional visa that includes the potential for permanent residency if a business venture is successful.
The Startup Visa Act has a similar focus--providing lawful immigration for entrepreneurs who can create successful businesses that benefit the economy.
The current proposal would create a new type of entrepreneurial visa. Immigrants could apply for the new visa upon a showing that the immigrant can generate at least $100,000 from investors to create a new business.
The bill spells out details about the nature of investments that would qualify under the program (technically, the senators say that the entrepreneurial immigrant would have to obtain an H1-B visa under the startup visa program). The new business attached to a startup visa must create at least five new jobs in the U.S. within two years and generate additional capital investment and at least $500,000 in revenues.
The senators sponsoring the bill say that successful startup visa entrepreneurs would be able to apply for a green card and eventually seek citizenship for creating a successful business through the program. The senators have not outlined how many visas would be allocated under the program, but suggest that the visas could be taken from the EB-5 program.
Source: Boulder County Business Report, "Bill for Startup Visa Act reintroduced," Michael Davidson, Jan. 30, 2013