There are many different ways to enter the United States – as many visas as letters of the alphabet. While a “startup visa” doesn’t exist within our immigration system, our country – and Boston’s tech community – would benefit from the introduction of such a pathway. Why do we have no way for entrepreneurs to come into our country and create jobs for Americans?
Currently, visa options for business purposes are limited. To simplify, there are three general options available:
H visas are traditional work visas. They allow you to live in the U.S., be employed, and make money. However, H visas are designed for large and established companies, not startups. You cannot petition for yourself, which means the visa is only available to paid employees, not founders.
E visas allow entrepreneurs investing a significant amount of money into the U.S. economy to enter the country for a limited period of time, without any hope of ever gaining permanent status. For startups, the investment must be large enough to open and operate their business.
B visas allow for temporary travel for business or pleasure. This grants small startups, without enough money to acquire an E visa, permission to enter the country for 90 days. Unlike the other two visas, B visa holders cannot legally make money in the U.S. during this time. They also have no option for permanent status.
There are very few options available to entrepreneurs. Many just want to come expand their startup on American soil, create jobs, and make a living for themselves at the same time. And yet our country’s current immigration system doesn’t let them.
The United States was founded on the idea that it would be a sanctuary for new and innovative thinking. Why does our current immigration system actively prevent entrepreneurs from doing just this?
While few people disagree with the fundamentals behind this, little is being done on the legislative level to fix it.
Enter Dat Ventures and its four founders: Tomas Ratia, Matt Hurley, Javier Rivera Lavid, and Sagar Desai.
Dat Ventures, founded in late 2014, is a Boston-based accelerator working exclusively with international startups. Their staff helps with everything from visa advice, to acclimating international entrepreneurs with the New England life.
The founding team identified the gap created by our immigration system, and is dedicated to making it easier for entrepreneurs to come and build their company in Boston and the United States.
Just last week, Dat Ventures accepted a new batch of fellows – its fourth-ever cohort. This group consists of 13 startup teams from across Europe, Asia, and South America.
While Dat Ventures is working to help entrepreneurs once they enter the U.S., few people are working to change immigration laws and make it easier for entrepreneurs to come here in the first place.
In President Obama’s executive actions last fall, he proposed a visa that would allow entrepreneurs to come to the United States and scale their companies. The full extent of the visa will hopefully be announced in the coming months.
But what can we do in the meantime?
Become informed on the issue and spread the word. Read about the startup visa – one suggested visa pathway for entrepreneurs that FWD.us has submitted to the White House. The more support this pathway has, the more likely it will come to fruition.