You'd think the U.S. would want to make it easy for would-be tech entrepreneurs to set up shop in our country, no matter where they were born. After all, the whole thinking up interesting stuff and then figuring out how to make money on it is supposedly America's speciality, right?
Sadly, huddled entrepreneurs from overseas yearning to be free find it increasingly difficult to get visas. The U.S. does offer visas appropriate to entrepreneurs, but they're tricky to get, take a long time, and have to be renewed every two years.
Meanwhile, Chile has spotted an opportunity and taken up the slack, offering an entrepreneur's immigration package for anyone who will invest $500,000 over five years. Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur turned academic, obviously went on some sort of junket, but his praise for the program over at TechCrunch seems genuine, and the Chilean system puts America to shame:
What really struck me was how many Chileans I met who boasted of their country being a "land of immigrants." Everyone told stories about how Chile was built by immigrants and welcomed the world's most skilled and most oppressed. This reminded me of how America used to be before the xenophobes started blaming immigrants for all their own shortcomings and misery.
Here are the terms:
So what do you get for your $500,000? To start with, they'll give you a visa. You can stay as long as you want – even permanently. You need to submit a business plan but you have a lot of latitude for what's an acceptable business….
How about workforce incentives? Chile has you covered. The government will pay you (as an approved entrepreneur) up to $25,000 for the first year of "training costs" for any locals you hire. By the way, Chile has some excellent engineering schools so it's not terribly difficult to pick up a good Java or C# programmer. They typically make $15,000-30,000 per year. Can't find the local talent you want? Chile will subsidize your efforts to bring folks from Sunnyvale, Mumbai or wherever you may find them. And you can train these folks on Chile's dime as well….
How about for H-1B immigrants or other talented folks who want to move to Chile? Simple. Get a legitimate tech job and they'll give you a visa, no questions asked.
More immigration stories here.