Could 2021 bring a new US Start Up Visa?
America’s history is rich with foreign entrepreneurs who have built world-changing enterprises from US soil. Just as the nation’s past has been heavily shaped by the contributions of immigrants and their ideas, so too will its future.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways levelled the playing field by normalizing virtual and remote working, establishing operations in the US still carries unparalleled competitive advantages. It opens up the VC market, the job market and trade agreements.
But four years of protectionist immigration policy has stifled this flow of people. In passing over 400 restrictive immigration measures, Trump sent out a deterrent message to foreign-born entrepreneurs by entrenching barriers within the immigration rules and visa petitioning process.
Current US visa routes are limited for start-up founders. The primary route, the E-2 visa, while attractive in many ways, entails an arduous petitioning process. Substantial investment must also be made before the visa application can be made, with no guarantee the visa will be granted.
Foreign entrepreneurs starting up companies from within the US have a solid track record in transforming challenges into opportunities. From experience, those that are successful bring the same determination, commitment and perseverance to their US visa petition as they do to their enterprise. But a more welcoming route and straight forward visa application process would allow applicants to focus their efforts on making their business a success, rather than draining time and resources on the application.
Losing out to other nations
Without competing internationally to attract entrepreneurs, they will go elsewhere. Other countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia and Sweden already offer specific routes for start-ups, with long term residence and citizenship prospects, that have succeeded in creating jobs within the domestic economy.
Canada, in particular, has benefited from foreign-born entrepreneurs who may in other times have sought to set up southwards but have been deterred by recent US immigration policy.
Many are hopeful that the election of Joe Biden will spark renewed interest in creating a start-up visa category for the US.
But if the US fails to more warmly engage at the start-up level, this highly energized and innovative cohort will take their ideas, their investments and their jobs elsewhere.
US immigration advice
NNU Immigration specialize in supporting entrepreneurs and start-up owners with plans to set up in the US. We are highly experienced in advising on the immigration routes open to you, and guiding you through each stage of the application and interview process. For advice on pursuing your business goals in the US, contact our US immigration attorneys.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.
Last updated: November 30, 2020