Proposed Bill Creates Two New Visas for Start-Up Entrepreneurs
Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) introduced the Entrepreneurial Businesses Creating Jobs Act of 2015 (the EB-JOB Act of 2015, H.R.3370). Among other things, the bill would create a new green card category for entrepreneurs establishing new startup businesses in the US (EB-6). The bill would also create a new green card category for established investors who are already in the US on an E-2 visa (EB-7).
The proposed EB-JOBS Act would include a new conditional visa program – the EB-6 visa – for immigrants who want to establish new startup businesses in the US. The bill’s requirements for a successful visa application, however, change depending on whether the business is backed up by venture capital, or whether it is self-sponsored by the immigrant entrepreneur.
For businesses that have venture capital backing, the immigrant entrepreneur applying for the visa would have to show that there is at least $500,000 in backing from qualified investors or companies, or at least $100,000 in investment from qualified seed accelerators. If successful, the immigrant entrepreneur would get a conditional green card for two years. The restricting conditions on the visa, however, could be lifted by showing that the startup company has either:
Provided at least five US workers with permanent, full-time jobs;
Provided at least three US workers with permanent, full-time jobs earning at least $100,000 per year;
Raised at least $2 million in additional capital investment; or
Earned at least $1 million in revenue
For businesses that are self-sponsored, on the other hand, immigrant entrepreneurs applying for the visa would have to show that the business they have created has already provided full-time jobs for at least three US workers. If this initial hurdle is overcome, the immigrant entrepreneur would be provided with a conditional green card for two years. The conditions attached to the visa would be lifted if the business has either created full-time jobs to at least ten US workers, or has created full-time jobs of at least $100,000 per year to at least seven US workers.
The proposal by Representatives Lofgren and Gutierrez would also create the EB-7 visa. Green cards under the EB-7 visa category would be available to current E-2 visa holders who have managed to keep their E-2 status for at least ten years, and who have created at least five jobs to US workers for at least ten years.
Job Creation Requirement
Regardless of how the business is backed, there are expectations surrounding the kinds of jobs that EB-6 or EB-7 visa holders have to provide to American workers. To be considered both “permanent” and “full-time,” the jobs would have to be expected to last at least two years, and require at least 35 hours of work per week.
Additionally, for the employee to be considered a “US worker,” he or she would have to be either a US citizen, or a lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee. Neither the EB-6 or EB-7 visa holder, nor his or her spouse or children, can be counted as a “US worker” under the proposed bill.