Reforming Immigration Law to Allow More Foreign Student Entrepreneurs to Launch Job Creating Ventures in the United States

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This paper outlines some of the barriers that foreign student entrepreneurs face, and describes how a somewhat expanded version of bipartisan legislation along the lines of the Startup Act 2.0 (S. 3217 or the Startup Act), cosponsored by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mark Warner (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Scott Brown (R-MA), would help to address some of these roadblocks. The Startup Act, which has also been introduced in the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis, as discussed below, would create a new conditional permanent resident status opportunity for foreign students who hold master’s or doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) awarded by a U.S. institution of higher education. It would also create a conditional immigrant visa opportunity for “qualified alien entrepreneurs”: entrepreneurs who either hold an H-1B visa or have completed or will complete a graduate level degree in a STEM field, and register a business that meets certain conditions for number of employees and dollar amount of investment discussed further below (Startup Visa).

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