What’s Going On with Entrepreneurship and Immigration

joannafurlong
  • By: joannafurlong
  • In: BLOG, FEATURE STORIES, GLOBAL, HOME, NEWS
  • Posted: September 7, 2016

This is the first in a two-part blog series focused on entrepreneurship and immigration. In our next post, we’ll share some thoughts on this issue from the perspective of immigrant entrepreneurs.

These days, you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to get the latest news on entrepreneurship. In fact, the biggest news as of late is happening in Washington, D.C. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a new proposal that would create a rule that would allow foreign entrepreneurs—who are creating new businesses here in the U.S.—a temporary pass to stay here for up to five years. No congressional approval required.

The proposal is a big win for both Silicon Valley—who has been begging for a friendlier immigration route aimed at startup founders—and Obama, who is sidestepping Congress to make it happen.

Foreign Entrepreneur Rule

About the Foreign Entrepreneur Rule Proposal

Here’s what the Foreign Entrepreneur Rule, proposed on August 26, would allow:

  • The DHS would have the authority to grant parole on a case-by-case basis
  • Startup entrepreneurs must have at least 15% ownership, and play a central role in the company
  • Eligible startups must have been formed in the U.S. within the last three years
  • The startups must demonstrate the potential for “rapid growth and job creation” including having received at least $345K in funding, $100K in government grants or a combination of the two
  • Entrepreneurs would be granted two years to focus on growing their startup, with an option to request an additional three years

Wondering what’s been taking so long? Here’s the back story.

If you’re thinking, “Hey, this doesn’t sound too awful! What’s been taking so long?” we’ll give you a moment to grab a coffee refill. . . Yup. Congress.

Back in 2011 there was a bill introduced, aiming “to give two-year visas to foreign entrepreneurs if they secure at least $100,000 in financing from qualified investors.” You can guess where that ended up. Then, in 2014, President Obama attempted executive action to create a startup visa program. And the whole issue swirls, at a larger level, amid the heavy controversy on a broader immigration program, or lack thereof.

Think we don’t need immigrant startup founders? The numbers prove otherwise.

A lot of people are getting their panties all bunched up over this (we’re Girls in Tech—we can say that), but the truth is, we’ve always experienced greater success in tech when we approach it from the standpoint of inclusion. A study by the National Foundation for American Policy, a research organization dedicated to studying immigration issues, shows that more than half of companies with $1 billion or greater valuation has at least one immigrant founder. The study, from March of this year, points out that, “among the billion-dollar startup companies, immigrant founders have created an average of approximately 760 jobs per company in the United States. The collective value of the 44 immigrant-founded companies is $168 billion, which is close to half the value of the stock markets of Russia or Mexico.”

We’re talking about companies such as: SpaceX, Uber, AppDynamics, ZocDoc, Gusto, CloudFlare, and many, many more.

These companies aren’t just pushing yet another commodity. Many of them are making radical shifts to the way we live, work and explore our world. This is the real value of entrepreneurship, of innovation and vision. It’s about advancing our culture and our place in the world; it’s changing the way we live and making connections we wouldn’t have otherwise established.

These numbers put math behind what so many in Silicon Valley already recognized; what thriving startup ecosystems already value and support—entrepreneurs. When it comes down to it, they are the real heroes behind economic transformation.

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