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USA looks to create ‘startup visa’ for international entrepreneurs

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to publish a new rule in order to accommodate foreign startups. Entitled the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), this will allow foreign entrepreneurs to gain easier entry into the country.

“America’s economy has long benefitted from the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs, from Main Street to Silicon Valley,” writes the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), León Rodríguez, on the organisation’s website.

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“This proposed rule, when finalised, will help our economy grow by expanding immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment and generating revenue in the US,” he continues.

If passed, the DHS will be allowed to allocate the startup visa on a case-by-case basis. The criteria for the visa will include applicants having at least a 15-percent share in the startup, as well as a central role in its operations. The startup must also have been founded in the US within the past three years, as well as demonstrate the potential for growth and job creation.

Read more: SA investors can apply for Tier 1 visa to live in UK

In order to demonstrate growth, the company should have received at least US$345 000 worth of investments from qualified US investors, at least US$100 000 in federal grants (state or local government entities), or show parts of both criteria as well as other compelling evidence.

Upon successful application, applications will be allowed at least a two-year stay in the US in order to see the operations of the startup. Thereafter a further three years may be granted if the startup continues to grow.

According to a post on Medium, this has been part of President Barack Obama’s plan to streamline legal immigration, and was part of the bipartisan immigration bill that was passed in 2013.

“Studies suggest that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants,” write Tom Kalil and Doug Rand on the post.

The article also states the rule and other plans could boost the US’s output by up to US$250-billion annually, while shrinking the federal deficit by US$65-billion over the next 10 years.

The US Federal Register invites all public comment for 45 days after the proposed rulemaking’s publication, thereafter the USCIS will address all comments.

Feature image: Diego Cambiaso via Flickr.

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