Revisions To Senate Startup Visa Act Called More Realistic

Senators John Kerry’s (D-Mass) and Richard Lugar’s (R-Ind) decision Monday to update the Startup Visa Act of 2011 appears to be receiving good reviews from the venture community.

The goal of the act is to make it easier for qualified foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses in the United States. When it was unveiled last month, it required a startup founded by a foreigner to raise a minimum investment of $250,000. The threshold dropped to $100,000 in Monday’s revision, a number more typical of seed-stage companies.

In a post, Brad Feld, managing director at the Foundry Group, called the new threshold more realistic. The same sense of relief came from Vivek Wadhwa, a visiting scholar at Berkeley and senior research associate at Harvard.

According to the act, the new business must go on to create five jobs in two years and raise an additional $500,000 in capital or more. It also needs to generate sales of at least $500,000.

The bill also allows immigrants presently in the U.S. with H-1B visas or who have completed graduate level classes in science, technology, math, etc., to stay if they have an income of at least $30,000 and an investor who is willing to back a new venture with at least $20,000.

Their business must create at least three jobs in two years and raised at least an additional $100,000 for them to stay. It also needs to have revenue of at least $100,000.

Entrepreneurs outside the country also will be able to relocate to the U.S. if their companies have at least $100,000 of domestic sales, the act says.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the House.