U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced an amendment today to the immigration-reform bill before the U.S. Senate to encourage foreign entrepreneurs and highly skilled college graduates of U.S. universities to start businesses in the United States and create good-paying, middle-class jobs. The amendment makes important changes to the capital requirements in the INVEST program to better help entrepreneurs start businesses and grow the U.S. economy.
This reasonable set of improvements will help ensure that all startups -- from software to biotech to clean energy companies -- are able to take root in the United States and not in China, India or other foreign countries. Warner and Udall's amendment would keep the United States competitive with countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and Chile who have recently started aggressively courting foreign entrepreneurs.
"Our amendment provides a smart, targeted improvement to the bipartisan immigration proposal by expanding the ability of qualified entrepreneurs and foreign-born STEM graduates to pursue investments and new jobs here in America," Sen. Warner said. "We need to become more competitive in the global race for talent, and this amendment provides additional tools that will help boost America's competitiveness."
"Our country is stronger and more prosperous thanks to immigrants. The comprehensive immigration reform legislation currently before the U.S. Senate takes small steps in the right direction, but we need to do more to keep the United States from falling behind in the global economic race," Sen. Udall said. "This common-sense amendment will create fairer standards for startup visas to encourage foreign entrepreneurs and highly skilled college graduates of American universities to start businesses here and create jobs."
The Warner/Udall amendment seeks to improve upon the INVEST visa provisions by making it easier for qualified entrepreneurs to use the program:
It lowers the capital requirement for renewal of the non-immigrant visa from $250,000 to $150,000 in order to ensure that all types of successful entrepreneurs have a chance to stay in the U.S. to grow new companies.
The amendment also clarifies several provisions to allow entrepreneurs to remain in the U.S. if they have successfully sold their company or have taken it public during a three-year period.
The amendment doubles the number of available green cards for each fiscal year, to be reallocated from unused visas if the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Government Accountability Office find that the program is effective in creating new businesses and that there would be additional economic benefit derived from the release of additional visas.
Finally, the amendment extends the timeframe for qualified entrepreneurs to meet revenue targets, which is important because many successful tech startups struggle to reach profitability during the first few years after inception.