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3/4/2010
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Startup Visa Act Proposed To Create US Jobs

High-tech firms would likely benefit from the legislation, which would give permanent legal status to immigrants who attract $1 million in revenue or investments.

Legislation supporting immigrants with the wherewithal to start companies in the U.S. has been introduced by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar with the hopes that it would help create badly needed U.S. jobs.

Supported by a group of Silicon Valley investors who visited Washington this week, the bill would revise the E-5 visa program to accredit any foreign entrepreneur who has raised at least $250,000 for a business venture. The bill calls for the creation of a new two-year visa called EB-6 for successful applicants. More than 150 U.S. venture capitalists have supported the legislation.

"Everywhere Dick Lugar and I travel for the Foreign Relations Committee," said Kerry in a statement, "we see firsthand the entrepreneurial spirit driving the economies of our competitors. Creating a new magnet for innovations and innovators to come to the United States and create jobs here will offer our economy a double shot in the arm -- robust job creation at home and reaffirmation that we're the world's best place to do business."

The legislation, dubbed the Startup Visa Act of 2010, calls for amending existing EB-5 immigration laws. If an immigrant entrepreneur attracts $1 million in additional investments or achieves $1 million in revenue, the entrepreneur would be granted permanent legal resident status. According to many of the venture capitalists supporting the bill, high-tech startups would likely benefit from the bill.

Many U.S. computer and IT companies have been started by immigrants from foreign countries.

For instance a 2006 study of high-tech firms found that nearly half of the founders were immigrants. The study listed many foreign immigrants who founded successful companies, including Intel's Andy Grove, from Hungary; Sun Microsystem's Andreas Bechtolsheim, Germany, and Vinod Khosla, India; eBay's Pierre Omidyar, France; Yahoo's Jerry Yang, Taiwan; Google's Sergey Brin, Russia; Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang, Taiwan; and Cascade Communications' Gururaj Despande, India.

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