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Trump's decision to delay 'startup' visas to impact Indian entrepreneurs

Several Indian startups are looking to incorporate in the US

BS Reporter  |  Bengaluru 

Donald Trump
Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

The administration's plan to delay the so-called visa programme that would allow foreign entrepreneurs who set up companies in the US to live in the country could affect Indian entrepreneurs who are looking to tap the US market.

Several Indian startups are looking to incorporate in the US, which would allow its founders to get a visa to stay in the country. The process, initiated by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, was to ease movement of immigrants and set up companies in the US. 

Known as the International Entrepreneur Rule and favoured by many in the technology industry, the program would allow non-US citizens who launched companies that won $100,000 in government grants or received $250,000 in venture capital investments. Obama initiated the programme as independent studies showed that majority of 87 Unicorns or private companies that are valued at over $1 billion, were started by immigrants. 

Indians contributed to the maximum number of billion dollar startups (14), according to a study by the National Foundation for American Policy that was released last year.

"The US market has a bigger opportunity. For entrepreneurs, scaling up their business is faster in the US because of the ecosystem over there," says an executive of a venture capital firm, who did not want to be named. "It makes it much harder for Indian entrepreneurs to move to the US"

The executive said the ability to raise large funds would become a challenge if the person does not have access to markets such as the US.

The move to delay the visa programme is part of the Trump administration's strategy to reduce immigration of people into the US. Since he took over as President, Trump has said that he would execute his promise of building a wall on the border with Mexico to reduce immigration. He has imposed restrictions on travel from several Muslim nations. 

At the same time, he has asked the state Department to review the H-1B visa programme to restrict lower qualified technology professionals from entering the US. The latest push to delay the visa programme comes despite appeals by the US technology industry.

Despite achievements of these immigrant founders and their companies in the US, a visa would be an important addition to the US immigration system, since currently, it can be difficult for foreign-born entrepreneurs to stay and grow their business in the US. The low quota on H-1B temporary visas also can make it difficult for startups to hire new personnel in their fast-growing businesses, the study added.

First Published: Wed, July 12 2017. 14:00 IST
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