WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) today introduced legislation, “The StartUp Visa Act of 2011,” H.R. 1114, to encourage innovation and economic growth by permitting immigrant entrepreneurs greater access to temporary U.S. visas. The bill matches legislation introduced this week by Senators John Kerry, Richard Lugar, and Mark Udall in the Senate.
“The entrepreneurial spirit among immigrants is ingrained in our country’s history and success,” said Rep. Maloney. “This legislation will promote our competitiveness around the globe and create a new generation of prosperity here at home by helping highly-skilled talent– wherever in the world it comes from–to create companies and jobs in the U.S.”
“Every job-creating American business started as an idea in the mind of an entrepreneur. We need to keep and bring more of those ideas to our shores where they can put Americans to work. Global competition for talent and investment grows more intense daily and the United States must step up or be left behind,” said Sen. Kerry, Senate sponsor of the bill.
“Creating a new magnet for innovations and innovators to come to the United States and create jobs here will offer our economy a double shot in the arm – robust job creation at home and reaffirmation that we’re the world’s best place to do business.”
The “StartUp Visa Act of 2011” better utilizes existing visas by making adjustments to the existing EB-5 visa to accommodate those entrepreneurs who fit one of three fact patterns:
Option One: Immigrant entrepreneurs living outside the U.S. would be eligible to apply for a StartUp Visa if a qualified U.S. investor agrees to financially sponsor their entrepreneurial venture with a minimum investment of $100,000. After two years, their business must have created 5 new jobs and raised not less than $500,000 in additional capital investment or generate not less than $500,000 in revenue.
Option Two: Immigrant entrepreneurs currently living and working inside the U.S. on an unexpired H-1B visa; OR immigrant entrepreneurs currently in the U.S. who have completed a graduate level degree in science, technology, engineering, math, computer science, or other relevant academic discipline from an accredited United States college, university, or other institution of higher education would be eligible for a StartUp Visa if…
– They demonstrate annual income of not less than roughly $30,000 or the possession of assets of not less than roughly $60,000; and
– Have proven that a qualified U.S. investor agrees to financially back their entrepreneurial venture with a minimum investment of $20,000.
After two years, their business must have created 3 new jobs and raised not less than $100,000 in additional capital investment or generate not less than $100,000 in revenue.
Option Three: Immigrant entrepreneurs living outside the U.S. would be eligible to apply for a StartUp Visa if they have controlling interest of a company in a foreign country that has generated, during the most recent 12-month period, not less than $100,000 in revenue from sales in the U.S. After two years, their business must have created 3 new jobs and raised not less than $100,000 in additional capital investment or generate not less than $100,000 in revenue.
Visas covering these options would be reallocated under existing EB-5 visa – which grants visas to foreign nationals who invest $1 million towards the creation of 10 jobs. Under a new EB-6 category, a visa would be granted to the innovative entrepreneur with intellectual capital, instead of a wealthy foreign investor who is in a position to buy a visa. The legislation transfers an allotment of the yearly 9,940 EB-5 visas, of which only 4,191 visas were used in FY 2009, to be granted under the new EB-6 category. The creation of new visas is not authorized in this bill.
The investor(s) eligible to “sponsor” immigrant entrepreneurs must be based in the U.S. – with the majority of partners being U.S. citizens – and have made $10 million capital commitments over the course of 2 years, with at least four investments exceeding $500,000 as stipulated in applicable SEC investor rules.