Immigration Bill Proposes New U.S. Immigration Options for Investing in New Ventures, Entrepreneurial Startups, and Technologies

by Vinh Duong

As the push for immigration reform hits a fevered pitch on Capitol Hill, much of the debate has centered around securing our borders and how to find a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Emerging with equal force in the immigration debate are pro-business groups and entrepreneurs who are pushing Washington to pass sensible and meaningful immigration legislation, including creating a visa and "green card" program that encourages foreign investors to come to the United States and work alongside investors and venture capitalists to create and invest in new start-ups in the scientific, high-tech and engineering fields that create new jobs and spur economic growth.

On April 16, 2013, the Senate "Gang of 8" introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which proposes a number of exciting changes to our U.S. immigration laws that would help stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment in new ventures, start-ups and technologies.

The bill proposes to create a new INVEST non-immigrant visa category known the "X" visa for "qualified entrepreneurs" who, in the three years preceding the submission of a visa petition for "X" nonimmigrant status:

  • Have had venture capitalists or other investors devote a minimum of $100,000 to the foreign national's U.S. business; OR
  • The foreign national's business has resulted in the creation of a minimum of three (3) jobs and generated a minimum of $250,000 in annual revenue.

In addition to creating a new X nonimmigrant visa for qualified entrepreneurs, the bill also proposes to create a new EB-6 immigrant investor visa that is numerically capped at 10,000 per year for qualified entrepreneur" aliens, which is defined as an entrepreneur who:

  • has a significant ownership interest in a U.S. business entity (but need not be a majority interest);
  • is employed in a senior executive position with the U.S. business entity;
  • submits a business plan to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and
  • had a substantial role in founding the U.S. business or facilitating the early-stage growth and development of the U.S. business.

According to the bill, a qualified investment may include an equity purchase, a secured loan, a convertible debt note, a public securities offering, a research and development award from a qualifies government entity or any combination thereof.

To be eligible to apply for an EB-6 immigrant investor visa, the foreign national must have maintain valid nonimmigrant status in the United States for two (2) years. Moreover, in the three years preceding the filing of the application for an immigrant visa, the foreign national must have:

  • had a significant ownership interest in a business that created a minimum of five (5) jobs and received a minimum of $500,000 in venture capital or other qualifying investments; OR
  • "
  • had a significant ownership interest in a business that created a minimum of five (5) jobs and generated a minimum of $750,000 in annual revenues.

Creating a visa and "green card" program that attracts and retains entrepreneurial talent is a win-win for United States. Although previous attempts to develop a such a program have so far failed, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act has received broad support from both business and labor as well as from Republicans and Democrats and, as a framework, brings us closer to meaningful immigration reform that will help reinvigorate the U.S. economy.

About The Author

Vinh Duong assists a broad spectrum of industries ranging from early start-ups to large multi-national corporations, with their international talent acquisition and regulatory compliance needs. Companies seeking to attract and retain international personnel rely on Vinh to assist with immigration matters, including: E-1 and E-2 visas for foreign traders and investors; EB-1 petitions for foreign nationals of extraordinary ability; EB-2 national interest waiver petitions (for researchers and physicians); H-1B visas for specialty occupation professionals; J-1 waivers for physicians subject to the foreign residence requirement; O-1 visas for foreign nationals of extraordinary ability L-1 visas for intra-company transfers. Clients in the healthcare, banking, off-shore, manufacturing, and science/technology industries also seek Vinh's counsel regarding compliance with government regulatory programs such as I-9 employment verification and E-Verify. Vinh's good-natured sense of humor and sincere interest in serving the clients’ makes each feel like they are the only client. Vinh’s commitment to client service is underpinned by his belief that providing personal attention and offering complete reliability are his most critical tasks. Vinh's dedication to helping people seek new opportunities in the U.S. is exemplified in his work with pro bono and community activities, which include supporting free citizenship clinics for individuals and families and assisting special immigrant juveniles obtain permanent residence in the United States.

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