How Can The Startup Visa Be Improved Upon?

from the fixing-it-bit-by-bit dept

When the startup visa was first put forth by Paul Graham, I was a big supporter. When Brad Feld took the idea and got political support for it, I was still a big supporter. But when the bill was actually introduced, I expressed some serious worries about it -- specifically over the fact that it was entirely focused on enterpreneurs who could raise a certain amount of money. As I noted, there were some potentially serious unintended consequences of requiring enterpreneurs to raise a specific amount of money just to stay in the country. The leverage between enterpreneurs and VCs can be a delicate enough balance without adding in the fact that you might get deported if you don't take the deal being handed to you.

While many of the people I know and respect in the industry have been vocal champions of the current bill, it was good to see at least someone make a big deal of these serious deficiencies in the bill. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote up a post for Business Insider that basically reflects this same viewpoint. We both think that a startup/entrepreneur visa makes a ton of sense, and it's something the country needs, but we're a bit worried by the current bill, which seems entirely focused on venture capital, rather than actual entrepreneurship.

Some have responded and suggested that this is better than nothing, but I'm not entirely convinced of that. A bad bill with unintended consequences could create more harm than good and could derail future attempts to put forth more serious (and needed) reform.

In the end, I think (former VC) Jeff Nolan put it best: this is a "well-intentioned bad idea that shouldn't be stopped." The real thing is that it should be fixed. Now, some of the bill's supporters have suggested that the problems with this bill are necessary, in that it's the only way they'll get passed, but that seems like a defeatist attitude. We have an opportunity to actually get this right and to bring smart entrepreneurs who can create a lot of jobs and tremendous value to the US. We shouldn't rush it through in the easiest manner possible: we should focus on getting it right, even if it takes more effort.

Update: It looks like the folks at the Kaufman Foundation have had similar concerns as well, supporting the concept, but worried about tying it to funding. They suggest an alternative, focused on job creation:
Here's a way to improve on the Kerry-Lugar plan. Create a true "job creator's visa," one tied directly and only to job creation by new immigrant entrepreneurs. The visa could be a temporary one for immigrants already here on another visa who establish a business. It could then be extended if the firm hires at least one American non-family resident. The visa should become permanent once the enterprise crosses a certain job threshold (such as five or 10 workers). But it would not be tied to financing.

There are plenty of immigrants who might qualify: the one million skilled foreign workers now here on H1-B visas who otherwise must go home after six years, as well as the roughly 60,000 foreign students who earn degrees at American universities each year. These are far larger numbers than those who could qualify under the Kerry-Lugar proposal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    ant anti mike, Mar 23rd, 2010 @ 11:04pm

    just another scam like copyright/patents

    get used to it im sure they gonna dream up more. WHO would want to live in the USA now a days is beyond me, let alone move there to start anew.

    Unless your established already in the USA YOUR SCREWED

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    MadderMak (profile), Mar 23rd, 2010 @ 11:15pm

    Re: just another scam like copyright/patents

    hmmm....

    That comment assumes the USA is the only country in which to start a business.

    Frankly there are quite a few more I would prefer to live in (IMHO).

    That would appear to be the problem the billl attempts to address - they will indeed not start a business in the USA. Another counrty will instead benefit.

    "Unless your established already in the USA - THE USA IS SCREWED" Fixed that for ya :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Andrew F (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 12:58am

    I'm a fan of tying the visa solely to job creation and adding a provision that while you're here on the startup visa, you can't take on a full-time job at any company you did not found and thereby deprive an actual American of that job.

    Actually, I'm a fan of eliminating almost all the restrictions entirely, but politics being politics, I think the above offers the best combination of political palatability and actual improvement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 1:35am

    How about

    we get over national borders being a barrier to people moving around.

    Moving between countries should be as easy as moving between states.

    Right now, corporations use national borders to screw workers.

    If you're "legal" in the country you want to be in, they should let you in. They don't have to guarantee you anything except that you're allowed to leave.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    AJRussell (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 3:37am

    Oh snap...

    Did the Kaufman Foundation just condone making 4-9 Americans redundant every time one of these start-ups fails? Did they just suggest new businesses take on extra staff they don't need just to meet government quotas?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Jake, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:20am

    The Elephant In The Room

    Mr Masnick, I'm afraid there's something you either can't see or don't want to admit.
    A significant majority of the population of your country, my country and almost every other country on the planet are opposed to foreigners settling there for any reason. The reason for this is quite simple: Foreigners are Different, and the human psyche is wired to be instinctively afraid of people who are Different.

    The total percentage of the world's population who are either incapable of overruling their instincts based on logic and reason or who don't bother to try almost certainly amounts to more than half.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Good Idea But Could It Lower Capital Availability For Others?

    "The leverage between entrepreneurs and VCs can be a delicate enough balance without adding in the fact that you might get deported if you don't take the deal being handed to you."

    Very good insight.

    I think a better means of determining who should be allowed into America would be to test a broad range of skill areas relevant to their ability to succeed. This is something which Kaufman Foundation would be well suited to help draft and then have job creation milestones.

    One concern I have about this is could it lower capital availability for American entrepreneurs.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 8:02am

    Population Growth

    We all need to remember that excessive population is at the root of many problems from adverse environmental impact to shortages and high prices. It also facilitates rapid transfer of pathogens and offers more mutation opportunities.

    So allowing high value immigration is good but allowing others probably is not wise. Just as America has not lived within our means for some time the same is even more true in countries which consistently reproduce beyond the ability of their land to sustain them.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    H1B Abuse & Assuring That This Is Not Abused

    One last point, H1B visas have been abused by big companies to undermine fair wages and that has in turn undermined interest by our young people in becoming engineers and scientists. It is important that this program NOT be allowed to be perverted in a way to undermine domestic wages.

    I do not think that immigrants should be totally banned from being employed but that it should be limited and that companies who employ one of these immigrants should have restrictions on doing so serially if those they employed are unsuccessful and expelled.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Ven, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 9:00am

    Re: The Elephant In The Room

    To argue that we should base immigration policy on based on a genetic instinct evolved when humans were loose collections of waring tribes is an absurdity. In the US we have outlawed discrimination in the work place based on national origin because as a society we acknowledge that such fears are baseless. If we can accept this is a mandate for our work environments why can't we make our immigration policy honor the same ideals?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    B, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Employers can legally discriminate against qualified Americans

    Employers can legally discriminate against qualified Americans by firing them without cause and recruiting only H-1B guest-workers to replace them. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has said: “H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of a foreign worker.” Some companies that discriminate against American workers are so brazen that their job advertisements say “H-1B visa holders only.” And some companies in the United States have workforces that consist almost entirely of H-1B guest-workers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Jake, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: The Elephant In The Room

    I was not arguing that anyone should, quite the contrary in fact, but pointing out that that is how things currently are in most of the world. And discrimination between people of the same nation/tribe/whatever is a slightly different psychological mechanism; certain people might have convinced themselves that they're superior to black, Indian or Chinese people who were born and raised in this country, but they're a known quantity. Recent arrivals aren't, though that generally wears off after a few generations. Not that pointing out that everything said in today's tabloids about economic migrants from former Warsaw Pact states was being said about my own distant Irish ancestors ever shut my grandmother up about how they're destroying our way of life.

    And yes, it is absurd. It's irrational, it's counter-productive and it's resulted in the wilfully callous and degrading treatment of tens of thousands of people. But good luck getting elected after saying so in public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Ron, Apr 4th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    Startup Visa Scam

    And then they will let these new generation of Green Card holder suffer and live a life of prisoner just like 1.5 million are doing so right now. And most of these 1.5 million made huge contribution to the US by working for Intel, IBM, NASA, Pfzer... just to know that they will be deceived and treated as a robotic labor and will be banned to be with their families:



    Read here: http://www.unitefamilies.org/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This