Startup Visa: Regulations Released As Early As Today

Last November, I pointed out that the Obama administration was finally making plans to implement the “startup visa” that was announced in the President’s 2014 speech that touched on immigration reform. A source close to the White House indicated the startup visa regulations might actually be released today.

On August 1st, the Office of Management and Budget began reviewing the proposed “Significant Public Benefit Parole for Entrepreneurs” rule.

Who Qualifies?

Most of the details are expected to be released on Friday. But according to the abstract, here’s who would qualify and what is needed to qualify for a startup visa under the proposal:

Who can qualify:

  • Inventors
  • Researchers
  • Entrepreneurs

What you need to prove:

  • You have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing, OR
  • You otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies, OR
  • You otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the pursuit of cutting edge research.

The abstract of the proposed startup visa is:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to establish a program that would allow for consideration of parole into the United States, on a case-by-case basis, of certain inventors, researchers, and entrepreneurs who will establish a U.S. start-up entity, and who have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing or otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting edge research. Based on investment, job-creation, and other factors, the entrepreneur may be eligible for temporary parole.

Who benefits from the startup visa?

Here are a few examples of who would benefit from the startup visa:

  • A student from India with an award-winning business idea, a contract to roll-out the new technology at a U.S. college, and only a small chance of obtaining an H-1B visa in the April 2017 lottery to start in October 2018.
  • A Russian couple with a robotics invention that has already launched a major, successful international app, but who does not have $1 million to invest in a new company to get investor green cards.
  • An Iranian woman with an idea for a great sharing economy app stuck in the chicken-and-egg that investors won’t fund her until she has legal immigration status.
  • A brilliant Italian woman working as part of a team of founders for a company experiencing major traction, but who cannot legally work for the company and who is only here as a business visitor not getting paid for her efforts.
  • An Austrian inventor stuck trying to slowly develop his technology in Europe without access to venture capital.

These are just a few examples. Every day we consult with several highly-motivated founders who long to build amazing companies in Silicon Valley.

Startups are Good for the U.S.

According to a White House report, “Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century,” released in July 2015, the purpose of the startup visa is to “encourage entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities in the United States with high growth potential to create jobs for U.S. workers and benefit the U.S. economy.” This rule will help attract entrepreneurs to the U.S. and increase U.S. competitiveness.

This program will create jobs, keep the best and the brightest in U.S., and maintain the U.S. as the global leader in innovation. And, of course, it will help all individuals with a dream to build an amazing company in the U.S.

Highly skilled STEM workers (science, technology, engineering, and math) are often immigrants. Immigrants founded 51% of the billion-dollar startups established in the U.S., according to a 2016 study by the nonpartisan National Foundation for American Policy. Immigrants are key members of the key teams in more than 70% of these companies. The immigrant founders of billion-dollar startup companies have created an average of 760 jobs per company in the U.S. They include the founders of Uber, Palantir, and SpaceX.