A bill introduced today in the Senate by Democrat John Kerry and Republican Richard Lugar proposes a new type of visa for immigrants who create startups and jobs in the U.S. A similar proposal is part of an immigration reform bill in the House. The Startup Visa has been controversial and will no doubt draw fire from anti-immigrant forces and xenophobes. But if we are going to be giving away visas, giving them to people who will help build the U.S. economy and create jobs is hard to argue against.
The Startup Visa Act of 2010 would create a two year visa for immigrant entrepreneurs who are able to raise a minimum of $250,000, with $100,000 coming from a qualified U.S. angel or venture investor. After two years, if the immigrant entrepreneur is able to create five or more jobs (not including their children or spouse), attract an additional $1 million in investment, or produce $1 million in revenues, he or she will become a legal resident.
The bill would carve out a new “EB-6″ class of visas from the existing “EB-5″ class of visas which has a higher threshold for becoming a legal resident. So it’s not really that radical. The EB-5 requires immigrants to invest at least $1 million in the U.S. and employ ten people.
The Startup Visa sends the right message to prospective immigrants: create jobs, get a green card. A group of 160 venture capitalists and angel investors support the bill, including Paul Graham, Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, Dave McClure, Ron Conway, Mike Maples, Reid Hoffman, Chris Sacca, Jeff Clavier, Bijan Sabet, Josh Kopelman, and Chris Dixon. If you agree that the Startup Visa is a good idea, you can find ways to support it here and here.