Creating more visas for entrepreneurs is clearly one pathway to reinvigorating the American economy and making it competitive again. There is ample evidence that entrepreneurs and innovators still see the US as the best location and market for their products. Research by the Kaufman Foundation shows that in 2006, 44% of the new companies in the US were founded by immigrants.
However, the current state of immigration laws in the US however places many hurdles in their path. The Startup Act 3.0 proposes to overcome these hurdles by offering visas to entrepreneurs who wish to invest in the US and create new companies and jobs. The bipartisan bill would open doors to entrepreneurs who create companies worth at least $100,000 and add at least two jobs within the first year and three more within the first five years.
Providing Incentives for Investors
The bill provides tax breaks for the new companies and incentives for investors to continue supporting new ventures. It also incentivizes investment in R & D, and proposes using existing federal funding to bring university-level research to the marketplace more quickly. In addition, it directs the US Department of Commerce to study state and local policies, to make them more friendly to the development of new businesses.
The bill would offer entrepreneur visas to up to 75,000 workers who are already in the US on F-1 or H-1 visas. Provided they could meet the requirements of the bill, these residents would move along the track to permanent resident status. This would help meet the needs of US businesses by keeping this talent pool in the country. The bill would also provide extended visas leading to a green card to up to 50,000 students in the science, technology and engineering fields.
The bill was first presented in the US Senate in 2010, and then again in 2011. The current version, 3.0, is under consideration before Congress. The bill is supported by entrepreneurs and particularly the technology industry. Economists believe that it will contribute to job creation.
Despite all its patent benefits, the bill has become entangled in the complex and contentious debate surrounding comprehensive immigration reform. It is however, increasingly recognized that the pressing concerns of immigration reform and job creation are closely tied. Advocates of the act also recognize that countries like Canada already have implemented their own versions of the act. Without such legislation in the US, investors and entrepreneurs are forced to seek other countries for when starting new business ventures.