Remember John Kerry, the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2004 ? Well, couple of weeks ago he introduced a bill in the US Congress on a special visa for foreign start-up entrepreneurs. This bill is the result of extensive lobbying efforts by prominent Silicon Valley folks who figured that easing the process by which foreign entrepreneurs could start their companies in the US would be good for the economy. More innovation, more jobs, more wealth creation. StartupVisa.com has been the key focal point of this effort.
Uptil now, foreign entrepreneurs had to go through hoops to setup base in the US. There has been the EB5 visa category, and the much more complex O visa. I’ve met with Canadian entrepreneurs who’ve shifted / wanted to move to Silicon Valley but found this immigration thing overwhelming. When you are building new products, battling competitors, and generally just putting everything on the line – not having to deal with immigration is a nice thing to have. If passed into law, this bill would grant a special 2 yr ‘Start-up Visa’ to foreign entrepreneurs who have raised $250k of funding ($100k from a US investor). After 2 yrs, if the startup has hit one of the following goals, the entrepreneur would become a permanent US resident: created 5 full-time jobs in the US, or raised $1 million in additional funding or earned $1 million in revenue. See more coverage about this on BusinessWeek.
A Canadian entrepreneur’s story was featured front and center on the StartupVisa.com movement’s website. Eric Diep was a University of Waterloo student whose ideas were able to attract investor interest in the US but due to immigration reasons, it didn’t pan out. He had to come back to Canada. Here is Eric’s story:
If this bill passes, it would be a fantastic opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs looking to build on their dreams in the US. The question is, what is being done to retain that talent over here? As recent Techvibes coverage points out, Canada is increasingly becoming start-up friendly, with the removal of the dreaded Section 116 tax provisions and new tech seed startup funds launching, such as Mantella Venture Partners in Toronto and various activity going on in Quebec. Even TechCrunch had a headline today saying ‘Canada Now Somewhat Less Anti-Startup‘.