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If you’ve been following the Startup Visa, you may know that the bills that were submitted in both the House and the Senate expired at the end of the 2010 Congress. I’ve been on a number of calls lately discussing re-introducing these bills with updates to reflect the renewed understanding of the impact on high growth entrepreneurship on jobs in our country.
A few months ago several entrepreneurs took it upon themselves to create a great short (25 minute) documentary called Starting-Up In America. It is a set of interviews with foreign entrepreneurs in the US talking about why they chose to start their company here, the struggles they’ve had getting appropriate visas, and – in several cases – the severe limitations their visa status has placed on their businesses.
It’s been very difficult to get people to talk publicly about their experiences because of fear of retribution from the USCIS. I’m super proud of everyone involved in this documentary – both for putting the effort into making it as well as being brave about talking out about the issue.
I spent the previous 36 hours in Washington DC, primarily at the O’Reilly Gov 2.0 conference. I did a ten minute speech on the Startup Visa and a ten minute interview about entrepreneurship, innovation, and the Startup Visa. The conference was well attended – about 700 or so folks – and I enjoyed a number of the talks that I sat through.
Following are the two segments – first my keynote and then the interview.
Well, I’ve learned a lot about how a bill becomes a law on my journey to try to turn the Startup Visa idea into a law. And yes – it’s a lot like how I learned about it on Schoolhouse Rock about 35 years ago.
It’s been a little less than a year since I wrote the post on 9/10/09 titled The Founders Visa Movement. This evolved into the Startup Visa initiative, resulted in a bill in the House (HR 4259 sponsored by Polis (D-CO)) and a bill in the Senate (S. 3029 co-sponsored by Kerry (D-MA) and Lugar (R-IN)). We’ve made steady progress building support and have numerous endorsements, including most recently the American Bar Association and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. In addition, the co-sponsors for the various bills are starting to appear: for example, Udall (D-CO) recently signed on to co-sponsor S. 3029, Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Owens (D-NY), and Wu (D-OR) have co-sponsored HR 4259. I’m also aware of a few more that are about to announce.
In the mean time, I regularly get asked by readers of this blog and supporters of The Startup Visa “what can I do?” At this point, it’s straightforward (but not necessarily easy) – get your Congressperson to sign on as a co-sponsor. At the stage we are at, it’s apparently the most impactful thing we can do get our little bill friend in the Schoolhouse Rock video up off the steps and moving toward law.
I’m extremely excited that Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), the senior senator for Colorado, has signed on as a co-sponsor of The Startup Visa Act of 2010 that was originally proposed by Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Lugar (R-IN). Senator Udall joins his Colorado colleague in the House, Jared Polis (D-CO), who has proposed Startup Visa legislation as part of his EB-5 reform bill.
In addition, our friends at SVB Financial (the parent of Silicon Valley Bank) have also formally endorsed the Startup Visa. My partner Jason Mendelson wrote a post about a roundtable that Silicon Valley Bank hosted for members of “the new Democrat Coalition” which included Jared Polis. Shortly after this meeting, SVB formally endorsed the Startup Visa.
I’m really proud that two of Colorado’s members of Congress are leading the charge on the Startup Visa. I have deep respect for both Mark and Jared, their understanding of the importance of entrepreneurship, and their vision for innovation in our country. I’m also grateful that SVB – which has been an integral part of the entrepreneurial activity throughout the US – for their support as well.
We are working on a few additional major announcements and endorsements in the next sixty days. I’ve received a number of requests for ways to help. At this point, if you are part of an organization that you think would be supportive of the Startup Visa, please drop me an email and let’s talk about ways to get a formal endorsement.
In March, I went to DC with Dave McClure, Eric Ries, Shervin Pishevar, and a bunch of Geeks on a Plane to discuss, advocate, and support the Startup Visa initiative. As part of the effort, we did two videos about the trip – one staring me and one staring Shervin. Ben Henretig of Micro-Documentaries produced them – they have some striking images of DC along with plenty of commentary from me and Shervin about why the Startup Visa is important.
Eric Ries has a few other thoughts about the trip and things you can do to help the Startup Visa initiative.