The immigration bill creates a couple of potential pathways for immigrant entrepreneurs. For permanent immigration, the new merit-based visa includes entrepreneurship as one of the criteria for which points are awarded to a potential immigrant. Specifically, an individual who is an entrepreneur in a business that employs at least two employees in a zone 4 or zone 5 occupation will receive 10 points. A zone 4 occupation means a job that requires considerable preparation as classified on the Occupational Information Network Database (O*NET), while a zone 5 occupation refers to a job that requires extensive preparation.

Regarding temporary visas, the bill creates a new INVEST nonimmigrant visa for entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in the United States. Specifically, the Investing in New Venture, Entrepreneurial Startups, and Technologies (INVEST) visa would allow a qualified entrepreneur who has demonstrated, during a three-year period, that a qualified venture capitalist, investor, community development financial institution, or other entity has devoted no less than $100,000 to the entrepreneur’s United States business entity. Additionally, during the three-year period, the entrepreneur’s business must have created at least three jobs and generated, during a two-year period, at least $250,000 in annual revenue in the U.S. While the entrepreneur may be admitted as a nonimmigrant for an initial three-year period, the visa may be renewed for additional three-year periods if the business continues to meets the specified requirements in the U.S. For the purposes of the INVEST visa, a “qualified entrepreneur” is someone who has a significant ownership interest in a U.S. business entity (not necessarily a majority interest); is employed in a senior executive position of such U.S. business entity; submits a business plan to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and had a substantial role in the founding or early-stage growth and development of the business in the U.S. The legislation also creates a new EB-6 immigrant visa for certain entrepreneurs with higher monetary and job-creation criteria than the nonimmigrant INVEST visa, of which 10,000 visas will be available for each fiscal year.

Thinking about the important role of immigrant entrepreneurship for the U.S. economy and society:

How will the creation of an INVEST visa for entrepreneurs impact innovation and job-creation in the United States?

Does the bill provide enough to attract and facilitate immigrant entrepreneurship in America?

What more might the bill do to better encourage immigrant entrepreneurship?

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