Administration Creates A Hack For A Entrepreneur's Immigration Visa
from the innovation-for-innovation dept
For many, many years we’ve talked about why the US should have an entrepreneur’s visa to let in smart entrepreneurs who are able to build companies and create jobs in the US, rather than kicking out the very people who are helping to build out the US economy. However, because immigration is such a touchy issue, attempts to do so via Congress have gone nowhere. And while we’ve had some concerns about the actual implementation (in particular the focus on requiring the entrepreneurs to raise a fair amount of venture capital), the general concept is a good one.
Late on Friday, it appears that the White House effectively worked out a way to create a startup entrepreneur’s visa on its own, without going through Congress. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a plan to expand the “parole” powers it already has to international entrepreneurs, allowing them to stay in the country while building a company:
The proposed rule would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use its existing discretionary statutory parole authority for entrepreneurs of startup entities whose stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation.
Homeland Security would review each request on a case-by-case basis, but would require the following rules:
- Who have a significant ownership interest in the startup (at least 15 percent) and have an active and central role to its operations;
- Whose startup was formed in the United States within the past three years; and
- Whose startup has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation, as evidenced by:
- Receiving significant investment of capital (at least $345,000) from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
- Receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain federal, state or local government entities; or
- Partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria in addition to other reliable and compelling evidence of the startup entity?s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
This does seem better than some of the earlier proposals, which included requirements after receiving the visa to have to raise upwards of $1 million from investors. We were worried that this would basically force entrepreneurs to take money from VCs when they might not otherwise need to. This parole system still has raising money as a criteria, but the amount is significantly lower and DHS also has the flexibility to still grant the parole without the investment if there is “other reliable and compelling evidence of the startup entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.”
It does still feel a bit arbitrary, but overall this is definitely a good step for entrepreneurship in the US.