Brad Feld

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Startup Visa End of Year Update

Dec 23, 2009
Category Government

As we finish up the year, I’m really pleased with the progress the Startup Visa gang is making.  I started thinking about, writing, and working on this on 9/10/09 when I wrote the post The Founders Visa MovementOne quarter later, we’ve:

  • Put together a core group of entrepreneurs, angels, and VCs who are working on this.
  • Received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from entrepreneurs and investors who have struggled with this issue.
  • Verified that this is a real issue, there is no current solution under the existing visa system, and even though there are plenty of immigration lawyers who say “no problem, I can get around this”, there aren’t clean solutions.
  • Engaged with a number of Congressmen in both the house and the senate.
  • Found a member of the house who is sponsoring a bill addressing the issue.
  • Talking to several folks on the senate side to find a sponsor.
  • Codified a first clean draft of language around this.
  • Build lots of grassroots support and enthusiasm.
  • Gotten plenty of discussion going in the blogosphere and mainstream media.

Shortly after I started talking to people in Congress about this it became clear that this wouldn’t be a 2009 legislative issue given the massive financial and health care reform issues being worked on in Congress.  So – we decided to use Q409 to “figure this out” with a goal of launching aggressively in Q110 with the goal of having this be part of whatever immigration reform activity happens next year, especially in the context of a renewed push for job creation activity in the US.

In addition to the Startup Visa OpEd that Paul Kedrosky and I wrote and published in the Wall Street Journal, several other high profile thinkers have written great essays on this issue.

The Startup Visa And Why The Xenophobes Need To Go Back Into Their Caves: Vivek Wadhwa (Visiting Scholar at UC-Berkeley, Senior Research Associate at Harvard Law School and Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University) wrote a great piece in TechCrunch.

Immigrant Scientists Create Jobs and Win Nobels: Susan Hockfield (MIT President) wrote a WSJ OpEd that – while not talking directly about the Startup Visa – clearly supports that overall effort and also reinforces my belief that any graduate with an advanced degree from a US college or university should get a green card stapled to his diploma.

While there are plenty of other articles in the mainstream media swirling around, ones in CNN Money such as Want to create jobs?  Import entrepreneurs does a good job of laying it all out.

Many of you have asked how you can get involved.  Look for a variety of easy ways to do this in Q1.  And – a huge thank you for everyone out there that has helped in any way so far.  In the mean time, feel free to add to the Wikipedia page of American Startups with Immigrant Founders.