My NYC startup is thriving, but the U.S. is kicking me out

Four years ago I co-founded a Brooklyn-based media company called Cypher League Media with a few friends. Our vision was to create platforms for sharing the arts and ideas of our generation. Today we run a digital and physical publication, event production,...

My NYC startup is thriving, but the U.S. is kicking me out

Four years ago I co-founded a Brooklyn-based media company called Cypher League Media with a few friends. Our vision was to create platforms for sharing the arts and ideas of our generation. Today we run a digital and physical publication, event production,...

11 Nisan 2017 Salı 00:10
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My NYC startup is thriving, but the U.S. is kicking me out

Four years ago I co-founded a Brooklyn-based media company called Cypher League Media with a few friends. Our vision was to create platforms for sharing the arts and ideas of our generation. Today we run a digital and physical publication, event production, a record label, and a music-sharing and collaboration app. We employ students and recent graduates from universities including New York University, Northeastern and Cornell. Despite being a job creator, my future in this country remains uncertain—because I was born outside of the United States.

There are many immigrant entrepreneurs like me in New York and other cities across the U.S. The best and brightest from all over the world come here seeking a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. A testament to this is that 40% of all Fortune 500 companies—including Google and Apple—were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.

But many people would be surprised to learn that there are few visa options for foreign entrepreneurs like me who want to start companies in the U.S. or have already done so. To try to fix this, the Obama administration introduced the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), which is to take effect in July. President Donald Trump should preserve this rule.

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After moving to the U.S. from Tokyo nine years ago for high school, I enrolled at Baruch College in New York City, where I’m currently a junior pursuing a degree in international business, finance, and global studies. Only my status as a student allows me to stay in the country. After graduating I will face the very real possibility of having to leave this country, which would mean relocating my Brooklyn-based business overseas. My story is shared by thousands of foreign students and immigrant entrepreneurs who dream of either starting or growing their businesses in the U.S. but can't. Every year, our country kicks out thousands of foreign students like me because their student visas have expired, or denies entry to thousands of immigrant entrepreneurs. In so doing, the U.S. is missing out on revenue and job creation.

In April, many hopeful high-skilled workers will take part in the H-1B visa lottery, fighting for their chance to either immigrate to or stay in the U.S. These visas are intended for STEM professionals with specific and often rare skill sets. But the H-1B visa process is complicated. Applicants must find a company to sponsor them for the visa, and the application process is costly, complex and arbitrarily capped, meaning there are far more applicants than visas available. Furthermore, the H-1B visa also doesn’t provide self-starters an opportunity to build a company, and there is no visa that allows talented H-1B visa holders to become self-employed and focus on growing their business.

In short, because I started my own company, I don’t qualify for the H-1B visa program. There is no real solution for me to stay in the U.S. and continue to run my company when I graduate from college and my current visa expires.

The IER was created to change this. It would be a great solution for entrepreneurs like myself who are capable of attracting capital and want to create jobs for Americans. The program has a clear set of requirements, such as a funding minimum of either $345,000 from qualified U.S. investors or $100,000 in government grants, and will attract the most ambitious job creators.

While it’s not a replacement for a startup visa, the IER is a good way to encourage more entrepreneurship in the U.S. We have an important opportunity for talented job creators to continue contributing to the communities where we were educated. Implementing the new rule is the right thing to do for the nation, not only because it will foster innovation but because it will help ensure that the U.S. remains competitive in today’s global economy. And it will help immigrant entrepreneurs like me continue to grow companies and create jobs for hardworking people in New York and across the country.

Tetsu Higuchi is a co-founder of Brooklyn-based Cypher League Media and a student at Baruch College.

Four years ago I co-founded a Brooklyn-based media company called Cypher League Media with a few friends. Our vision was to create platforms for sharing the arts and ideas of our generation. Today we run a digital and physical publication, event production, a record label, and a music-sharing and collaboration app. We employ students and recent graduates from universities including New York University, Northeastern and Cornell. Despite being a job creator, my future in this country remains uncertain—because I was born outside of the United States.

There are many immigrant entrepreneurs like me in New York and other cities across the U.S. The best and brightest from all over the world come here seeking a better future for themselves, their families and their communities. A testament to this is that 40% of all Fortune 500 companies—including Google and Apple—were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.

But many people would be surprised to learn that there are few visa options for foreign entrepreneurs like me who want to start companies in the U.S. or have already done so. To try to fix this, the Obama administration introduced the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), which is to take effect in July. President Donald Trump should preserve this rule.

After moving to the U.S. from Tokyo nine years ago for high school, I enrolled at Baruch College in New York City, where I’m currently a junior pursuing a degree in international business, finance, and global studies. Only my status as a student allows me to stay in the country. After graduating I will face the very real possibility of having to leave this country, which would mean relocating my Brooklyn-based business overseas. My story is shared by thousands of foreign students and immigrant entrepreneurs who dream of either starting or growing their businesses in the U.S. but can't. Every year, our country kicks out thousands of foreign students like me because their student visas have expired, or denies entry to thousands of immigrant entrepreneurs. In so doing, the U.S. is missing out on revenue and job creation.

In April, many hopeful high-skilled workers will take part in the H-1B visa lottery, fighting for their chance to either immigrate to or stay in the U.S. These visas are intended for STEM professionals with specific and often rare skill sets. But the H-1B visa process is complicated. Applicants must find a company to sponsor them for the visa, and the application process is costly, complex and arbitrarily capped, meaning there are far more applicants than visas available. Furthermore, the H-1B visa also doesn’t provide self-starters an opportunity to build a company, and there is no visa that allows talented H-1B visa holders to become self-employed and focus on growing their business.

In short, because I started my own company, I don’t qualify for the H-1B visa program. There is no real solution for me to stay in the U.S. and continue to run my company when I graduate from college and my current visa expires.

The IER was created to change this. It would be a great solution for entrepreneurs like myself who are capable of attracting capital and want to create jobs for Americans. The program has a clear set of requirements, such as a funding minimum of either $345,000 from qualified U.S. investors or $100,000 in government grants, and will attract the most ambitious job creators.

While it’s not a replacement for a startup visa, the IER is a good way to encourage more entrepreneurship in the U.S. We have an important opportunity for talented job creators to continue contributing to the communities where we were educated. Implementing the new rule is the right thing to do for the nation, not only because it will foster innovation but because it will help ensure that the U.S. remains competitive in today’s global economy. And it will help immigrant entrepreneurs like me continue to grow companies and create jobs for hardworking people in New York and across the country.

Tetsu Higuchi is a co-founder of Brooklyn-based Cypher League Media and a student at Baruch College.

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NoGig 2017-04-11 00:47:26

You do yourself a tremendous disservice by tying yourself to the mast of the HMS H-1B. That ship is listing badly, taking on water, and more torpedoes have been launched. There is little aside of anger at widespread and abusive displacement of citizens by foreign "guest workers" on H-1B, L-1, OPT's, etc.