New York City hopes to attract foreign entrepreneurs

02 March 2016

The New York City Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY), will launch a new visa program aimed at attracting immigrant entrepreneurs. The hope is that this will further develop economic prospects in the city.

The aim of the project, which will be called IN2NYC, is to bring 80 entrepreneurs to CUNY campuses and have them offer advice to staff, professors and students, while at the same time working to develop companies. Being a part of IN2NYC will enable the entrepreneurs to qualify for a skilled-worker visa, which is known as an H-1B. The application process will begin in the spring, and the program is due to commence in the autumn.

Each entrepreneur will need to secure employer sponsorship to be able to apply for the visas, which will be offered on a limited basis. The visas will be capped at 65,000 per year. However, an additional 20,000 will be available for foreign students who have completed graduate degrees in the United States. In 2015, 233,000 people applied for the visas, but only about one-third were successful. However, those people who are employed by higher education institutions and non-profit organisations will be exempt from the visa caps. IN2NYC, in partnership with CUNY, will also help the entrepreneurs obtain the visas.

Kevin Ryan, an entrepreneur who founded an online shopping company, as well as a number of other successful ventures, welcomed the program; he views it as a way to foster foreign talent in the city. Mr Ryan explained that being able to retain talent within NYC, rather than having to hire employees from overseas, would be much more straightforward and beneficial.

The president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Maria Torres-Springer, said that IN2NYC would align well with New York’s historical involvement in accommodating immigrants: "The program builds on the momentum, in a way where international entrepreneurs who want to relocate in the city now have a pathway to do that, as opposed to navigating what is currently a complex system."

The expectation from the development corporation is that each entrepreneur will be responsible for employing at least three people. Mr Ryan said: "Even if there are only a certain number who take advantage of this. One of them will end up starting a really successful company, and that company will employ 500 people and create huge tax dollars. So this will pay off for New York City."

The overall intention of this project is to entice foreign entrepreneurs into the US. The founder of Tesla Motors was born in South Africa and came to the United States as a college student and the co-founder of Google was born in Russia. Therefore, this project hopes to encourage more talented entrepreneurs to follow in their footsteps.

IN2NYC will be implemented across seven campuses: City College, Baruch College, the College of Staten Island, Lehman College, LaGuardia Community College, Medgar Evers College and Queens College.

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