The White House paves the way for foreign-born entrepreneurs to access “startup visas”

For foreign entrepreneurs, until last week, working in the United States was a daunting challenge. But this all changed when the White House announced plans to let people stay in this country for up to five years- so long as their startup us significant U.S. investment.  The rule, which was formally proposed August 26, was in response to the failure of Congress to include a so-called startup visa as part of broader immigration reform.

Instead, President Obama has thrown his support behind a program that will allow the Department of Homeland Security to use their existing authority to encourage and allow foreign entrepreneurs to work in the U.S. for two years. They also will have the ability to apply for a one-time three-year extension.  Changing the requirements will make it easier for the U.S. to enjoy the benefits of a bustling startup community. This will also encourage others around the world to come here, where laws and regulations may be more favorable.

This change is not without its’ requirements though.  In order to qualify, the individual wishing to come to the U.S. would need to have at least a 15% ownership stake in a U.S.-based startup.  They must have a central role in the operations of the startup. There needs to be the potential for a rapid growth of the company, and the potential for job creation.  In order to meet the growth and job creation requirement, the startup can have at least $100,000 in government grants, or a minimum of $345,000 in investment from American-based investors that have a track record of supporting companies that are successful in their industries.  If a startup fails to meet those requirements, it is possible for the foreign nationals to remain in the U.S. if they can provide other evidence of organizational success and the potential for organizational growth.

This is a change to a federal law that allows startups to incorporate within the U.S. while their employees remain overseas. This regulation is still in beta, and was intended to make the process of gaining access to American capital by being U.S.-based easier.

Harmony Tapper