Immigration Lawyer’s Notebook – The Startup Visa Act of 2010

Working as a San Francisco immigration lawyer, I’m interested in how immigration policy may help or hurt the struggling economy. A bi-partisan bill, The Startup Visa Act of 2010, has been introduced by Senator John Kerry (D- Mass) and Senator Richard Luger (R-Ind). The bill is intended to assist global entrepreneurs in obtaining U.S. visas.
This isn’t a simple open door policy. A foreign entrepreneur may be granted a temporary two-year visa (presently designated as an EB-6 visa) if they are able and willing to invest $250,000 in a business that they are going to startup. This may lead to a permanent visa.

To be eligible for a permanent legal status, the entrepreneur must have achieved one of the following after two years:

• Have created five full time jobs in the U.S.
• Managed to raise $1 million in additional investment cash.
• Generated $1 million in revenue.

It has been endorsed by over 160 venture capitalists from around the world. This bill can, of course, have an impact on the economy in the San Francisco area as well as my practice as an immigration lawyer. At this point it’s difficult to estimate how many entrepreneurs may take advantage of this opportunity.

This could really have an impact on immigration from China. A recent article on reported that a MIT study found that China has a higher rate of entrepreneurship than Europe and the U.S. They also have a high rate of business founders that are focused on high-growth. Those working in the high-growth area are starting companies that have at least 20 employees.

In recent years, European countries have been focusing on encouraging more high-growth entrepreneurship. Over the past five years, European countries have been working to create better business conditions such as tax incentive to encourage entrepreneurs.

This bill is designed to bring innovators and job creators to the country. It’s hoped that the U.S. economy, workers and consumers will benefit from The Startup Visa Act of 2010. As an immigration lawyer in San Francisco, I expect to see this law debated as is always the case with any change in immigration policy.