Lawmakers Aim to Draw Startups to U.S. With New Visa

He pointed out that countries as diverse as Singapore and Russia, Chile and Brazil have taken steps to attract foreign-born entrepreneurs by, for example, shortening the approval process for visa applications to a matter of weeks, as opposed to months or years.

He also stressed that entrepreneurs are looking for flexibility and that the current visa system can make it difficult for innovators to succeed in the United States.

"I'm told it's difficult to borrow money to start a business on an H-1b visa. The visas we create are for the person, not tied to a specific company… so this gives them more freedom," Moran said. "I want the American dream to be lived in America."

Moran and the other senators introduced similar legislation in December of 2011, but it failed to gain traction. Moran's staffer said the timing of the reintroduction is "not necessarily related to the discussion of comprehensive immigration reform," but rather that the bill is being raised again now because Moran and his co-sponsors "can play a constructive role" in the immigration dialogue.

Moran doesn't think the four senators need to wait for a comprehensive immigration reform plan to introduce their bill. He says about 80 of his Senate colleagues are likely to support the provisions included in the proposed legislation. Warner said he would like to see an entrepreneur visa rolled into a larger reform bill.

Moran's staffer expressed skepticism that a comprehensive bill would move forward quickly.

"The details have to get hammered out and that could be a difficult process," the staffer said. "It's one thing to agree on a broad statement, but how do you do that specifically? There are a lot of challenges."

This post has been updated. It originally reported that Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) would be one of the bill's sponsors. Rubio will not sponsor the Startup Act 3.0. According to sources familiar with the situation, Rubio decided not to sponsor the bill on Wednesday, the day it was introduced.

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