Is a front door for migrant Entrepreneurs opening in the US?

Migrant Entrepreneurs in the US will get special visa treatment in the near future and this is big news for a growing number of global entrepreneurs.

Credit to Beatrice Murch
Credit to Beatrice Murch

Obama announced the creation of a temporary work visa for undocumented migrants living in the US last November along an easier visa route for entrepreneurs and startup founders. This last news was received with enthusiasm and also some disappointment from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Inc. wrote an excellent article summarising what is at stake for startups and the US economy.

From the look of it, this announcement seems to point at the creation of a fast-tracked visa process for entrepreneurs and founders. This means that applications of entrepreneurs would get processed faster, using an existing provision known as “parole”. It will allow startup founders to enter the U.S provided they show they can create jobs and revenue from their venture.

As Tahmina Watson writes for GeekWire

In 2012, the administration allowed entrepreneurs to use this [provision] if they could prove job creation and revenue generation or attracting investment. However, there was not enough guidance provided for this and as a result, utilization was low. Now, under executive action, guidance is expected.

This announcement did no go into the details. As such, Obama’s speech could lead to the creation of a complete new visa for entrepreneurs, similar to the “startup visa” silicon valley entrepreneurs have been lobbying for since 2009. A Startup Visa would create a visa category for foreign entrepreneurs who have raised capital from qualified American investors. From the startup visa act draft, such visa would be a temporary work visa. It would be tied to investment thresholds as well as job & revenue creation targets to meet.


Craig Montuori joined on the phone by Migreat to comment on Obama’s announcement, suggested that a startup visa would likely take a year to be implemented.

It would be a preferred option for Entrepreneur visa for the US on the long term: “what would make a startup visa work and be a success relies on fast processing, predictability and it to be easily repeatable. In other words, if a clear Entrepreneur category is created in the immigration system, it create a clear legal status for entrepreneurs to trust and a law to point at to if any trouble. This is what is lacking at the moment with the current system.”

Allowing more foreign entrepreneurs in the country and facilitating their legal stay would create 1,6 million jobs in the next ten years according to a recent study by the Kauffman Foundation. Those migrants would not just be coming from Latin America, but could come from more countries like Greece, Iran, Lebanon or Korea. Migreat produced an infographic earlier this year on the nationalities of most US foreign entrepreneurs as the infographic shows below.

Where US Entrepreneurial migrants are from in one infographic

Stay tuned for more updates from Migreat on the topic of Startup visas worldwide. Follow our blog and check our entrepreneur & startup visa sections.

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