Startup Visa Act Introduced In The Senate
from the great-news dept
Less than a year ago, Paul Graham wrote one of his fantastic essays suggesting that the world needs a startup founder’s visa. The problem, of course, is that our immigration policies have made it quite difficult for immigrants to come to the US to start companies, even though many of the most innovative companies these days are founded by immigrants. Tragically, our immigration policy is often created under the belief that immigration and jobs are a zero sum game — whereby more immigrants means fewer jobs. But if those immigrants are creating new companies that create new jobs, the opposite is true. Thus the impetus for a startup founder’s visa that would allow immigrants to come to the US to build new companies here, creating jobs here, rather than creating those companies elsewhere.
In the fall, venture capitalist Brad Feld felt compelled to try to get actual political support for the idea (now called the “startup visa” rather than the “founder’s visa”) and in just a few months has succeeded in at least getting Senators Kerry and Lugar (bipartisan support, which is good) to introduce the Startup Visa Act in the Senate. You can read the text of the bill (pdf).
While I’m still a huge supporter of the concept of the startup visa, I’m still a bit concerned that the focus is only on supporting entrepreneurs who have taken a certain amount of venture capital money. There could be unintended consequences with that, in forcing immigrant entrepreneurs to take venture capital that they don’t need just to secure their visas. The risk, then, is that immigrant entrepreneurs become way too dependent on their VCs. One of the great things about the startup world today is that capital requirements have changed for many types of startups, and the ability to bootstrap a startup has increased greatly — but bootstrappers aren’t welcome under the startup visa. I’ve been told that this was a political necessity, and including some sort of venture capital “sponsor” was the only way this bill would move forward — so hopefully this passes, but further changes are made later to account for the fact that not all startups need venture money, and without forcing an entrepreneur into taking money from someone just to get his or her visa.