The “startup visa” Obama Can changer for foreign entrepreneurs?

The Obama administration announced last Friday a new measure to attract thousands of foreign entrepreneurs in the United States. Breakthrough or sword in the water? We posed the question to some French entrepreneurs.

It could soon be much easier for foreign entrepreneurs to settle in the United States. In any case that provides the Obama administration proposing a new measure allowing some immigrant entrepreneurs develop a start on American soil.

The proposal, which  is part of Obama’s commitment to attract ” the best and brightest entrepreneurs to build world’s next big business ” in the United States, does not make all eligible foreign contractors for installation on American soil.  

Restrictive conditions

Contractors will indeed  meet certain requirements to be issued sesame allowing them to locate in the United States. Among the prerequisites, taking a stake of at least 15% in a US startup, the ability to demonstrate the potential of business growth, investment, and job creation, but also the interest public and economic that this can have for the United States. The contractor must also and above have raised over 345,000 dollars from US investors with a history of “investments in the territory, or to have at least $ 100 000 from the state or local government agencies.

Entrepreneurs who meet these criteria will be well give entry into the country for two years, during which time the government may reverse that decision at any time. After this period, startup founders can then apply for a three-year renewal of their “visa” in conditions continue to perform their activities in the territory, but also to have created at least 10 jobs full-time and generated 500 thousand dollars in annual revenue.  After that, entrepreneurs looking to stay in the United States could ask other existing visas, as the EB-2 visa .

A longstanding strategy

If there is no limit to the number of persons admitted in virtue of these rules,  the Department of Homeland Security of the United States estimates thatnearly 3 000 foreign entrepreneurs could join the United States with this new rule ,  which will take effect after a 45-day consultation period.

It’s not the first time that President Obama argues for the establishment of foreign startups on American soil. During a speech in Las Vegas in 2013, it had indeed already ruled in favor of the creation of a visa for startups. Then a proposal rejected by Congress, but this time it would not need its approval since it takes advantage  of the immigration law, which allows the government to give some people temporary entries countries, case by case, for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “important public interest.”

A measure welcomed by entrepreneurs

The news immediately reacted entrepreneurs around the world, including Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, who explained in an email sent to the White House the importance of this type of device.

This one, which reminds foremost that the ” America is a nation of immigrants and has always been a magnet for workers, innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world.” He also explained that to develop a business , they need stability. Comfort that hitherto were not able to offer the United States.

A shared reflection by Wilfried Granier, cofounder of Superprof , who believes it is still  relatively complicated to install “officially” with a real work visa to the United States when, for example, a young French startup. To settle, we must know and cunning, he says, and to appeal to the right people. 

” Lots of companies ( Frenchtech HubFrench accelerator  to mention those with whom I worked) help to work in the US, offering office space, networking, mentorship and you explain the” art of resourcefulness “of all visas “

Wilfried Granier

The goal, he said, is to stay put, to devote himself to his project under good conditions, nu er partnerships, meet investors, without being off vis-à-vis immigration law .

To launch his US version, Superprof had recruited two Americans to avoid visa problems. Wilfried Granier, he lives between Paris and San Francisco to manage growth in Europe and boost the US with a B1 visa.

” I think that within 18 months we will have the means to pay us a kind E2 investor visa, which will allow us more flexibility but at the moment the criteria are still too high for our young company, so we cope “

Wilfried Granier

Cyril Zimmermann, founder of the group Hi-Media and moved to San Francisco last year to develop Hi-Media activities on the US market , the new measure does not seem to be a great revolution: “The United States traditionally have a favorable immigration policy vis-à-vis entrepreneurs, and it is not so difficult to get a visa as part of an investment or the creation of a company. We must have recourse to specialized legal advice and have a strong case. But it is true that the appreciation of the latter criteria were not very supervised. The clarification provided gives better legibility but seems to correspond more or less to what was already in place “

Finally, Jérôme  Ternynck, founder of SmartRecruiters , believes his side that startups developed by immigrants represent a real engine for the US economy.  

” When I came create SmartRecruiters in 2011, I had the chance to get a Visa L1. Otherwise I could not have come to San Francisco. But today, SmartRecruiters employs 140 people, has raised $ 55 million re-invested locally and 1,000 businesses using our recruitment platform created over 1 million jobs in 5 years ” 

Jérôme  Ternynck

This one, which says that things are moving in the right direction for entrepreneurs but also and especially to the United States, and that competition between States to attract startups will continue to escalate and thus recalls that  more than 40 % of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.  the White House plans to adopt this rule before President Obama leaves office on 20 January.  

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