I am a huge fan of the Startup/Founders Visa program, and while I started talking about this in 2009, the USA version of the bill has languished as the country headed off into a deep recession. The good news is that the idea of a Founders Visa has been re-introduced into the US Senate, but the worry is that with all the distractions, the bill will founder and not get voted on.
The premise of the new bill is that if a company can get a qualifying investment from a qualifying VC or Angel fund that founder will have the ability to stay in the USA an extra two years to prove their concept. Rather than good founders leaving the country, this gives them extra time to prove their startup, hire people, and provide jobs to Americans. While outsourcing is a fact of life, there are times it is easier to simply hire local than outsource an entire project. The idea is that these founders would hire locally rather than outsourcing their entire project overseas.
The reality is that according to the IMF is that people who lose their jobs often never make it back to the same earnings level that they had before. (If you are interested in the structural issues that unemployment causes, reading the IMF report is an eye opening experience).
This is one of the reasons that any support for startups is a good thing. While startups are famous for doing everything as low cost as possible, and there is no guarantee that anyone will hire locally first, this is a best attempt at doing a good thing. That is supporting at the federal level the entire startup community. I own my own company, and I know that I hire locally in the USA, there is no reason to outsource what I am doing, and I am really quite happy with the idea that I am paying my taxes, supporting local government, providing at least part time employment to 5 other people, and if we keep on growing at the rate we are growing, will start providing full time employment to people. This is why the founders visa is so important, much like my experience, it will have an influence on everything and everyone who comes in contact with it.
The new version of Kerry and Lugar’s bill would expand eligibility to holders of H-1B visas and entrepreneurs living outside the U.S. who have a market presence here. Like the original, it requires a minimum investment of $100,000 from an accredited investor. The visa may be extended after two years, if the startup business has created five new jobs or more, and raised at least $500,000 in new capital or generates at least $500,000 in revenue. “Accredited” is a term defined by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission meaning that an investor meets income and asset thresholds such that she can afford to make risky investments Source Masshightech
With the UK now ahead of the USA in relationship to a founder’s visa, with a much lower qualifying round for companies who want to relocate to the UK this is an important issue. Truly something that deserves support from people regardless of if you are in the high tech community or not.
Yes, there are horrible things happening in the world, but there are always horrible things happening in the world that provide distraction. The Founders Visa proposed in the senate is a two minute distraction that is more good news than it is horrible news, so worthy of people’s attention. With all the problems out there, this is one issue that is very simple to take action on, and also worthy of your time. You can find out more how you can help at https://www.votizen.com/issues/startupvisa/ and at http://www.startupvisa.com/
(Cross-posted @ Managing Intellectual Property & IT Security)