How a Startup Visa Program Can Lead to Meaningful Immigration Reform

Immigration is a valuable source of entrepreneurship and innovation in the tech community. This is demonstrated by the Silicon Valley and other tech-heavy regions’ heavy reliance on H1-B visas to bring skilled workers from other countries into their states. These visas are only available, however, to people migrating to the U.S. to work for established companies. Conversely, startup visas can help increase our nation’s human capital and economic output by attracting the best and brightest entrepreneurs from around the world. Thus, it is important to encourage entrepreneurship and facilitate innovation in the U.S. with startup visas so our nation can reap the benefits of emerging industries.

Starting in July 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may use its parole authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to foreign entrepreneurs who own a substantial interest in a U.S. startup that can create a “significant public benefit” and acquire investments from qualified U.S. investors. Known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, this regulation allows entrepreneurs who fit those requirements to stay in the U.S. for 30 months. They can then apply for an additional 30 months if the company shows continued growth and benefit to the American public.

This discretionary parole authority makes it possible for some foreign-born entrepreneurs to legally enter the U.S. to start and grow successful businesses. Such case-by-case opportunities should be codified into a startup visa program so we can provide more predictable innovation opportunities for nonresidents in our quest to attract the best and brightest entrepreneurs from around the world. Implementing a startup visa program with clear procedures for qualified applicants under federal law will lead to additional capital investment, job creation, and revenue. Thus, the codification of this program alone can implement meaningful immigration reform.

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