A Startup Visa is Profoundly Pro-American Entrepreneur

The tendency to celebrate the genius and vision of successful founders obscures a reality in American entrepreneurship: many businesses (research indicates up to half) were built not by individuals, but by teams.

When founding teams include one or more foreign nationals, new barriers to those startups’ success emerge. Foreign nationals must obtain a visa to work in the United States, but there is no immigrant visa category for entrepreneurs.

This barrier harms both immigrant and American entrepreneurs who have formed teams to launch startups.

Removing this barrier should be easy. Effective examples of how to do it exist in other countries and could be replicated in the United States. The solution? Create a startup visa.

A startup visa would allow immigrant founders who met certain criteria to be entrepreneurs in America and later become permanent residents—keeping their talents here where they will benefit other American entrepreneurs.

Yes; creating a startup visa will benefit immigrant entrepreneurs. A startup visa is also, however, profoundly pro-American entrepreneur.

Countless founding teams made up of American and foreign national entrepreneurs will benefit from a startup visa. As these startups grow they will create jobs for other Americans and wealth in American communities.

The mindset of “us” versus “them” perpetuates barriers for immigrant entrepreneurs that harm the American citizens starting businesses with foreign nationals.

The sooner this barrier is removed the better for all of us.

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Jason Wiens

Jason Wiens is policy director in Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he leads the Foundation’s policy outreach and education initiatives to federal, state, and local elected officials. Wiens also oversees a grant portfolio of policy-related research and is the lead author of the Entrepreneurship Policy Digest. His writing has appeared in Roll Call, The Hill, Washington Monthly, Real Clear Policy, and Forbes.

Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Wiens was deputy legislative director for U.S. Senator Jerry Moran where he provided counsel to the Senator and oversaw the development and implementation of the Senator’s legislative agenda. He led bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate related to entrepreneurship, immigration, and economic mobility.

Wiens earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science with a minor in sociology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.