The Startup Visa Act of 2013- my comments Part 1
The Text of the above bill was finally published this week having been introduced on January 30 2013. As my regular readers will know, I am an avid advocate of the Startup Visa Act and have been following the various versions that have come before us over the last 3 years.
With the current political climate, there is real hope of comprehensive immigration reform. In his State of the Union speech yesterday, President Obama said “Let’s get it done!”. Both parties agree something must be done. It seems to me that if a Startup Visa is not enacted as an independent statute, it is very likely to be included in the broader immigration reform.
Given the real possibility of something happening in 2013 on the startup visa issue, I am looking closely at the text of this particular bill (even more so than I did in the past).
While I commend the Senators who introduced this bill; and welcome and appreciate the enthusiasm and hard work to get the bill this far, I am nevertheless concerned about it.
My comments today are about eligibility for this visa only. According to this bill, who is eligible to apply for this visa?
From my reading, it appears the bill allows three types of people to apply:
- A person who currently holds an unexpired H1b visa.
- A person who is a STEM degree graduate or graduate of computer science or other relevant degree. Or,
- A person who owns the controlling shares of a foreign business.
While including the graduates is commendable, my concern is mainly about the other two criteria.
Someone with an unexpired H1b visa: I see many H1b holders who are waiting in the greencard ‘blackhole.’ I am glad that these folks are specifically included in the bill. However, there are talented and hardworking people holding various other visas who could contribute to the economy and create jobs.
People on E2 visas are a prime example. They are proven entrepreneurs yet they have no path to a green card. Some E2 holders have been in the US for decades. Many Sillcon Valley talent have obtained O visas. There are other types of visa holders too. Singling out H1b visa holders does not go far enough.
Someone who has controlling shares of a foreign business: For the people in this requirement, an appropriate visa already exists- L1A. Not everyone will have had a business abroad. The criteria is even more restrictive with the tight financial requirements ( I will address that another time).
All in all, am happy to see a new Startup Visa Act but hope it is revised before passing. Stay tuned for part 2 of my comments!!
In sum, the bill does not go far enough to address the problem. I hope the bill will be given careful consideration and be revised on these issues.
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