Earlier this month I wrote about for legislation that would modify the existing EB-5 visa to make it easier for foreign-born entrepreneurs with financial patrons to immigrate to the United States, saying in my headline that the Startup Visa Act would invite foreign investment in the U.S. Sadly, as with the hot-button H-1B visa program, it would also likely create the potential for abuse.
R. Lawson, one of the commenters on my post summed it up nicely, writing:
In theory it sounds great.
In practice, it will be yet another example of how the worst in our country abuse the most vulnerable for profit. The sad fact of the matter is that you can't mix big money and immigration. Corporations simply are not to be trusted when it comes to administering something that I believe is sacrosanct.
Immigration should be about people seeking a brighter future in a country that championed democracy. And that is all it should be about. Keep big business and exploiters of immigrants out of the immigration process!
Writing on his Venture Chronicles blog and citing a Business Insider piece by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Jeff Nolan gets to the heart of the problem by noting the Startup Visa Act would make foreign entrepreneurs incredibly beholden to their investors. "I can't imagine a situation primed for more potential abuse than one where the entrepreneur is dependent not only for funding from a VC but also residency in this country," he writes, echoing Lawson's point.
Nolan also taps other potential problems, namely:
Despite these reservations, Nolan thinks Congress should let the bill live, but "go back and address these weaknesses with draft language that passes muster and puts reasonable checks and balances in place that ensures the intentions of lawmakers and investors are being met." His support for the bill is linked to the fact that he personally knows some of the investors backing the bill and believes their intentions are honest.
The important thing, as both Nolan and a commenter named Pete Warden note following the post, is to keep the bill's requirements fairly streamlined to avoid making the process so complex that it requires immigration lawyers to get involved. Warden, who says he'll become a U.S. citizen soon, describes the slow pace of the immigration process, a problem I've written about before: six months to transfer an H-1B visa and seven years to get a green card.