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US visa for an idea

Senator JohnKerry

While getting H-1B visa is becoming difficult for Indians, the United States is opening another door for getting a long-term US visa, thanks to the growing concerns of unemployment and losing global competitiveness.

The Start Up Visa Act 2011 brings good news to Indians keen to migrate to the United States. An immigrant entrepreneur can get a two-year start up visa if they can convince a US investor to finance their idea.

Three US senators, John Kerry, Richard Lugar and Mark Udall, have reintroduced the legislation in in the Congress. Also, congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is likely to bring companion legislation in the US House of Representatives.

Further expanding the Kerry-Lugar StartUp Visa Act 2010, the pool of eligible immigrants can include H-1B visa holders and entrepreneurs living outside the United States with a market presence in the country.

Every job-creating American business started as an idea in the mind of an entrepreneur, says Kerry in a statement issued from Washington DC.

“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.

Senator John Kerry

“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.”

Lugar is keen to establish a way for the smartest and most entrepreneurial individuals in the world to come to the United States and create jobs. “Many are already here studying at our great universities.

“Helping them stay to invest in their ideas and create jobs benefits all Americans.”

Udall sees an urgent need to reform the US immigration system. “Our broken immigration system prevents talented entrepreneurs from all over the world from developing ideas that keep America competitive in a global economy.

“While I believe broader reform of the immigration system is long overdue, this fix is important to ensure we don’t unnecessarily hinder the innovators and entrepreneurs who will help drive America’s future economy.”

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 US, says Maloney.

The Act will amend the existing immigration law and provide opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs to gain entry or keep their residency. It offers three options.

The first option is for immigrant entrepreneurs living outside the US who can get a StartUp Visa if a qualified US investor agrees to a minimum investment of US$100,000. The new venture must create at least five new jobs within the first two years and raise more than US$500,000 in additional capital investment or have more than US$500,000 revenue.

The second option is for immigrant entrepreneurs in the US on an unexpired H-1B visa or those who have completed a graduate level degree in science, technology, engineering, math, computer science, or other relevant academic discipline.

The third option is for immigrant entrepreneurs living outside the US. They can get a StartUp Visa if they have controlling interest of a company in a foreign country that has earned US$100,000 revenues from sales in the US in the last 12 months.

The Start Up Visa Act 2011 at a glance

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 in 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.

Better Utilizing Existing Visas

To accommodate this new type of visa, adjustments would be made to the 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.

Preventing fraud and abuse

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.

Also read: How to choose an US Immigration attorney

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