Kauffman Policy Digest Makes the Case for Welcoming Immigrant Entrepreneurs to U.S. with a ‘Startup Visa’

Despite their vast contributions to job creation and economy, immigrants face obstacles to starting innovative companies in U.S.

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) March 27, 2014 – Citing research that shows the outsized economic impact of immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States, the Kauffman Foundation today issued an Entrepreneurship Policy Digest that highlights strategies for how a "startup visa" would allow immigrants to start businesses here after satisfying certain funding, employment and other requirements.

Currently there are several startup visa legislative proposals in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Policy Digest features a Kauffman Foundation analysis of possible economic contributions of one such proposal and goes on to offer the following research-based strategies to maximize the benefits of any startup visa:

Broaden Eligibility Thresholds

  • Fewer than 1 percent of new businesses receive venture capital investment at the outset.
  • While not all businesses receive outside investment capital, viable businesses will generate revenue. Recognizing that it can take time to develop, market and sell a product or service, revenue-generation over time could be a measure of potential entrepreneurial success.
  • Since a startup visa is meant to boost economic growth and create jobs, initial job creation could be a measure used to determine visa eligibility, so long as the requirement is not overly restrictive.

Create Easy Pathways to Entrepreneurship

  • Most immigrants come to the United States to work or study. A startup visa could allow foreign students and workers to smoothly transition from school or employment to entrepreneurship.

Increase Number of Visas

  • Adding more visas for immigrant entrepreneurs will allow a startup visa to have a greater impact on employment and job creation.

The Kauffman Foundation's Policy Digests consist of summaries of findings around relevant policy issues that will inform and educate policymakers. To read the entire Policy Digest on immigrant entrepreneurship and to sign up to receive subsequent Digests, go to www.kauffman.org/policydigest.