09 November 2010

US Visa policy change would lure entrepreneurial migrants, say lobbyists

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A growing number of lawmakers and high-tech industry lobbyists say a change in US Visa policies to attract more entrepreneurial foreigners would create jobs and keep the US competitive.

The push to create a "startup” US Visa program would grant a green card to migrant entrepreneurs who can prove they have raised at least $250,000 from a mainstream US venture capital company.

Under one proposed version, if the foreign national's venture generates at least five full-time jobs and either acquires $1 million in further venture capital or shows $1 million in revenue, he or she would be granted permanent legal-resident status.

Co-founder of the venture capital Foundry Group and the startup incubator TechStars, Brad Feld, said the US needs to welcome and support those who have proved ability to create new companies, jobs and economic growth.

Earlier this year, he and more than 150 venture capitalists and investors sent Washington lawmakers a letter urging action on the issue. Currently, there are several pieces of legislation making their way through Congress to enact versions of such a program.

Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar have introduced a Startup Visa Act, with Representative Carolyn Maloney introducing a companion bill in the House.

The proposed Kerry-Lugar-Maloney legislation would create a new EB-6 US Visa category for entrepreneurs wanting to start companies in the US.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their ESTA application to the US Embassy.

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