Entrepreneur Stuck In Canada Highlights The Need For A Startup Visa Now
from the this-shouldn't-wait dept
To understand just how important this is, here's one story of an entrepreneur who's been working hard to help build a startup in Silicon Valley who, only just this week, has found himself stuck in Canada unable to get back to the US, despite believing he had the proper visa (in this case, an H-1b). The story is depressing, and reminds you of all the ridiculous bureaucracy that people are forced to go through for something that makes no sense:
Just as everything seemed to be going so well, I came up to Vancouver on September 24th to renew my H1b visa and it turns out the approval I got last year is not worth it's weight in paper. Upon appearing for my interview, my previous approval notice was held by the consulate till I furnished a ton of extra documentation from our tax filings last year, to a full report of all employees, all of my bank statements right down to the photographs of our work area (as alien founders we cannot have startups in garages and our apartments, it has to be in real offices).It makes no sense that someone like this should be going through this sort of ridiculous bureaucratic process, held back by bureaucrats who don't understand how startups work.
I worked through the rest of Thursday and all through the night gathering all this evidence.... So after working through the night to get the evidence to the officers the very next day by 11:30 am, I was told that my application would take a week to be reviewed.
My biggest concern is that an LLC due to it's structure doesn't pay a salary to it's members but a guaranteed payment. My attorney has already warned me that this is a slippery slope to start explaining to consular officers when the time comes.
Now leaving aside the exorbitant costs of living in a city like Vancouver for a week, I don't have to talk about what an entire week means in startup terms. This particular week in question, since we're in fundraising mode, I have had to cancel a meeting with Comcast Capital and cannot present at the Plug and Play Expo on Thursday Oct 1st - they were nice enough and believed in our product to pretty much waive the $1500 participation fee, only to realize I can't make it.
Brad Feld, the venture capitalist who deserves all the credit in the world for taking this concept -- originally proposed by startup investor/mentor Paul Graham -- and actually getting some political interest in it, has a post discussing the momentum and some open questions.
The main open question he brings up is about how investors can "sponsor" an entrepreneur. Basically any qualified venture capitalist or "super angel" who is investing at least $100,000 in a round of at least $500,000 could sponsor a founder. I have to be honest that I'm not sure I agree with this. Why should the visa be dependent on financing? These days, we're hearing about more and more startups that are bootstrapping their way to success, or getting by on much smaller amounts of money. If a founder can build a successful company without raising $500k, should they not be allowed to take advantage of the startup founder's visa as well?
The proposal goes on to have renewal rules, as well, that also are dependent on job creation and raising more money. The job creation bit I can understand, but again I am troubled by the "raising money" bit. Why should the investors be the gatekeepers in determining who gets to be an entrepreneur?