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At Techstars, it breaks our hearts when we see world class entrepreneurs come to this country to grow their startups, only to return home because of visa and immigration issues. These are bright founders who will be hiring, paying large salaries, paying taxes, and becoming productive members of our society, but they are turned away. This is asinine to me, we should be recruiting entrepreneurs to the U.S., not turning them away! It’s bad for the startup, it’s bad for the entrepreneur, and most importantly, it’s bad for the U.S.

But luckily, there are some clever individuals out there that have come up with unique solutions to the visa issue for startups.

Organizations like the Global EIR Initiative, that lets entrepreneurs, backed by Techstars, work for a state university as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, until they qualify for a permanent H1B visa directly with their own startup. Thanks to Brad Feld for all his work on this organization and this issue.

Or Unshackled, who hires the founder as a W2 employee of Unshackled, in exchange for equity, until that founder can qualify for their own permanent H1B visa.

Techstars is working closely with both of these organizations to help bring the world’s best and most promising startups and entrepreneurs to the U.S. Hopefully the government is listening…

If you’re part of a state or local initiative around immigration and visas, please reach out to me directly or in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you’re doing.

Nicole Glaros
Chief Innovation Officer at Techstars. She’s been with Techstars since its early days in 2009, has run 8 programs and has close to 90 companies in her portfolio. Follow Nicole at www.nearlynicole.com

  • I had to get an E-2 visa to move to the US and am happy to share my experience (and a great lawyer if you are based in the UK). Just ping me (via our website http://www.hobbyDB.com)

  • Fiona McEntee

    Hi Nicole – I’m a U.S. immigration attorney with first-hand knowledge of the process as I’m from Dublin, Ireland, originally. I am a mentor in 1817 in Chicago and also mentor the Techstars companies here with respect to U.S. visa and immigration matters. I’m happy to provide advice as needed. Feel free to email me http://www.mcenteelaw.com

    • Thanks Fiona! I’ll reach out if we have need, I really appreciate the offer to help.

      • Fiona McEntee

        You’re most welcome, Nicole! I’m happy to be of assistance.

  • Jesus Baray

    Hi there Nicole – I’m a BA in International Business, certified by Harvard as a Manage Mentor (by an online course), also a musician who loves to create new music constantly, you know, this is kind of sad because I’m a B1/B2 (tourist) visa holder and my wife (a US citizen) has been living with me in Mexico for almost 2 years, we’re married in the state of Texas, but! We want to move to the US and it has been very difficult, the lawyers that could help us to stay there without me incurring into something illegal well… they’re very expensive, my wife wants to live near her relatives and I want to make her happy. So… here you have a young soul willing to work hard to grow professionally and as a person. Greetings from Chihuahua, Mx.

    • Hi Jesus. I can only imagine! I know it’s not easy. There are attorneys that specialize in visas via marriages, I’ve heard of a couple in the CA area but can’t recall their names. The programs mentioned in this post are only for entrepreneurs starting businesses in the US, so that wouldn’t apply to you, unless you’re starting a company here. (Ideally tech company, then apply to Techstars!). Best of luck!

  • ms

    Hi Nicole,
    Do you need to have a stablished startup which is done with seed funding in order to apply for Global EIR Initiative ? Do we need to be backed by Techstars ? I’m currently on student VISA and my student visa is getting expired this June (I applied for H1B through my current company but I didn’t get it)