Reform the EB-5 Visa

UPDATE (Feb 24, 2010): Today, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced the Startup Visa Act.

See full text of the Startup Visa Act here.

Below is a plain-english summary of the proposed Startup Visa immigration reform submitted by US Representative Jared Polis (D, CO-2), H.R. 4259, the Employment Benefit Act of 2009, also known as the StartupVisa.  It should also be noted that HR 4259 was recently included in the overall House Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill.

(note: language below may need to be updated over time, as the proposal is reviewed and negotiated by Congress)

Startup Visa / EB-5 Visa Reform

An entrepreneur applying for a Startup Visa (expansion of the current EB-5 Visa category or a new similar category) can be sponsored by a Qualified Venture Capitalist or a Qualified Super Angel investor who is investing at least $100,000 in an equity financing of not less than $250,000.

Definition of a Qualified VC: An entity that is classified as a “venture capital operating company” per ERISA definition, is a US-based entity, and a majority of the partners in the entity are US citizens. The VC firm needs to have minimum capital commitments of $10m and needs to have been in business for at least two years. During the previous two years, the fund had to make at least two investments each year of at least $500,000 each.

Definition of a Qualified Super Angel: A “Super Angel” is an accredited investor (as per the SEC accredited investor rules), a US Citizen, and has to have made at least two equity investments in each of the previous three years (a total of six) with each investment being at least $50,000 (a total of $300,000).

Visa Duration: The Startup Visa is valid for two years.

Visa Renewal: For the StartupVisa to be renewed, the company needs to either (a) create 5 new jobs every two years, (b) raise at least $1M every two years, or (c) generate at least $1M in revenue and be net income positive.

# of Visas per Company: the company may have up to 3 founders who are eligible to receive a Startup Visa.  The immediate family (spouse and children) of a founder may also be covered as dependents.

for more information, please check the Immigration Issues area of Congressman Polis’ website, and see updates for additional documents available here.