A Startup Visa – The International Entrepreneurs Rule – Form I-941

On Friday, the USCIS proposed The International Entrepreneurs Rule. While this is a proposal subject to a public comment period, I expect it will go into effect in about 45 days. We finally will have a startup visa!

The best summary I’ve seen so far is from Tahmina Watson titled International Entrepreneurs Rule (Obama’s Startup Visa Alternative)- Detailed Summary by Tahmina. If you want to see a detailed summary from someone who read and analyzed all 155 pages of the rule change, go read Tahmina’s post.

This journey started for me about seven years ago on 9/10/2009 when I wrote the blog post The Founders Visa Movement. Paul Kedrosky and I wrote an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal on 12/2/2009 titled Start-up Visas Can Jump-Start the Economy.

A group of us, including Dave McClure and Eric Ries went to Washington.

I talked about the Startup Visa at conferences.

Bills were proposed but not passed. Lots of articles were written. Many tweets were tweeted. Even a book was written about it by Tahmina Watson.  Canada created their own Startup Visa. The UK created an Entrepreneur Visa. But in the US, Congress continued to be unable to create a Startup Visa, under the guise of the failure of comprehensive immigration reform.

In response to the non-action from Congress, I co-founded the Global EIR Coalition with Jeff Bussgang and Craig Montuori. We’ve launched in four states (MA, CO, NY, AK) with a bunch more coming before the end of the year. I finally felt like some progress was being made.

After all the efforts of Congress to do something failed, the White House determined that a Startup Visa could be created under the existing law with a rule change. Tom Kalil and Doug Rand of OSTP worked tirelessly on this (they understood the importance of this from the beginning) and, as part of the announcement on Friday, wrote a great post Welcoming International Entrepreneurs.

It’s been a really long journey but I’m thankful for the support and encouragement of this effort from many people. I’ve learned a lot about our federal government as part of this process and expect that the learning will continue. Hopefully this rule change will survive a new administration (I’m told by a number of experts that it will) and foreign entrepreneurs who want to start companies in the US will have an easier time of it.


Also published on Medium.

  • Sebastien Latapie

    Perseverance can and does pay off – congratulations! It’s so refreshing to see some genuinely uplifting and positive news from the political side of things.

  • jkostecki

    Thanks guys for working so hard on this!

  • This was before I started commenting on you blog. I went back and read the original post and some of the link stuff. From the contrarian point of view, there are sort of two things that come to mind immediately. 1) Based on the train of comments about verifying they are founders and such, the potential for abuse is significant I think. 2) I guess I’m not sure I buy into the basic idea that just because they have a degree and are “starting a business” that they should receive special treatment. I know tons of people that fall into that category. It just seems like a way to get some people that you might be interested in to the front of the line which I’m not sure I agree with.

    • 1. It’s easy to solve for this. We’ve spent a lot of time on this over the years and the new rule incorporates pretty much everything we’ve done.
      2. It’s not a zero sum game. That’s part of the current problem. And – it’s not the front of the line – it’s the actually ability to get in the line.

    • The basic idea has several ‘teeth’ attached to it to validate some of the entrepreneurial assumptions. I am comfortable that such a public (USCIS) + private (investor/EconDev, etc) partnership can vet the applicants. To top that off, the applicants are being granted parole to stay, not a visa, green card or citizenship.

      To me – the closest analogy for this proposed parole is investing through syndicates – make lots of small, lower-risk bets and attempt to support the investment meaningfully. Double down on those who deliver and wish the remainder well.

  • StevenHB

    Mazel tov!

  • NastiaBigun

    This is amazing news. I am a bit sad it took me this long to find out about the work that has been going on. Is there any way I can get involved and help? I am based out of Austin, TX. Thank you.

    • Email me – I’ll connect you with the Global EIR folks.

  • Shiva Venkatraman

    Hi Brad, Congratulations on moving this mountain. I did not startup when I was in the H1B in the US as it was a huge hurdle at that time for people like us. I eventually naturalized to the US citizenship. Singapore has figured this out nicely. Happy to provide some inputs if required to your mission. Have some ideas.

  • Hung Dinh

    Hi @bfeld:disqus
    Thanks alot for helping making this happen.

    I have sent you an email sharing my personal story about the short of “Entrepreneurship Diversity” for the past 10 years.

    I also make a donation of $2500 to your TechStars foundation as well.

    I know that you are off the grid until 10/3/2016, however I really want to meet you in person and share more about how we can even take this one more step. This totally align with your vision at TechStars