PolitiHacks Digest – 20 May 2013

These folks want your support:


  1. #iMarch—The last few days to get involved: Fix immigration for startups on May 22 with Brad Feld and former Governor Schwarzenegger
  2. FixTheDMCA—New cellphone unlocking bill introduced, getting ready to move forward, and we need your help; join YC, reddit, EFF, and others.

Got a cause you want to share? Tell me.

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Reading List—Theme: Immigration Reform


  1. TheNextWeb: Faizan’s story—Speaking to their startup community audience, TNW analyzes the White House’s advocacy efforts on immigration reform, Startup Visa
  2. Huffington Post: Organizing For America partners with March for Innovation—The former is the White House’s affiliated advocacy group, while the latter is Mayor Bloomberg’s immigration reform advocacy organization; the two large groups will have a positive impact working together
  3. New York Times: House of Representatives immigration group reaches tentative deal—A bipartisan group reached the first legislative milestone, the Senate did several months back; Startup visa was too minor to be included then; unclear if we’ll get a mention here

One for the road: PublicKnowledge, a DC organization that was a major friend to startups during the SOPA fight, wrote up this take away from last Thursday’s copyright hearing. Read it in full if you care about this issue.

Political issues affecting startups: 


Cellphone Unlocking: Phone campaign

PolitiHacks is cosponsoring with FixTheDMCA.org a phone campaign, powered byPhone2Action. We’ll be targeting DC to advance the cellphone unlocking bill introduced by Reps. Lofgren (D-CA), Massie (R-KY), Polis (D-CO), and Eshoo (D-CA).

Phone campaigns work because DC political offices tally the number of calls on a given issue each day, which influences their decision-making process on legislative issues. According to one Congressman, if you can send at least 30 calls into an office from within the district, you’ll get advanced up the staff chain.

The targeted next step is for hearings to be held on the four bills that have been introduced. Ideally, we’d like the final synthesis to be based on the Representatives’ Unlocking Technology Act, but the key decision maker is Judiciary Chairman Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA), who is supporting another bill—along with Rep. Conyers (D-MI), the top Democrat on the committee—less favored by the startup community.


48 Amendments passed on Senate Immigration; what does current progress mean?

Here’s the go-to on tracking the progress Congress is making through the many amendments. Every Tuesday and Thursday, more will be processed. The Washington Post has the definitive coverage on the amendments that have passed.

One key signal I’ll point out is the support the Sponsor’s Amendment had, passing by 14-4, or 78%. These Senators on the Judiciary Committee are a first-order approximation to be the most educated on immigration, with positions across the spectrum from support to opposition.

It’s a good sign that the bill is starting from a position of strong support, though certain amendments, such as those from the broader tech community, could blow apart that support.


Tech companies strain immigration consensus

The tech community is pushing hard for a much more expansive immigration proposal, specifically concerning their H-1B needs. The two leading Senators to watch are Sen. Hatch (R-UT), on the side of tech, and Sen. Durbin (D-IL), opposing.

It’s unclear as of yet if Sen. Durbin speaks for the other authors of the immigration bill (the Gang of Eight), and similarly it’s unclear if Sen. Hatch has support from the other authors of the tech-friendly bill, I-Squared.

Politically, even as an individual Senator, gaining Sen. Hatch’s vote for the big immigration bill would be a large positive signal. On the other hand, as a member of the Gang of Eight, should the Hatch position win, it could drive Sen. Durbin off the Gang, which would be a large negative signal about the bill’s chances.

Addressing the issue itself (policy), startups generally aspire to become large companies, ranging from the traditional tech industry to agriculture or transportation, usually with H-1B needs. However, it’s unclear how the H-1B debate affects startups directly, as H-1Bs are difficult for early-stage startups to use due to anti-fraud rules declaring startups to be potential vehicles for fraud.


House hits first legislative milestone on immigration reform

The House immigration group of Representatives is expected to come out with their immigration principles in the next day or so. This set of principles will guide the future efforts to finalize details about the bill. The next step for the House is to introduce a bill or series of bills functionally equivalent to the big immigration bill in the Senate.

The House bill is expected to be more conservative than the Senate bill. The conservative position ranges from supporting the status quo (or even decreasing legal immigration) to advancing a major immigration reform based on the Senate in pieces, with policy priorities of reducing illegal immigration across the border with Mexico first and foremost as well as internal enforcement of existing US laws before any other reforms begin implementation.

We’ll keep an eye out for startup visa appearances in the House.


Canadian Immigration Minister visits Silicon Valley to snipe Founders with Visa Issues

The Canadian government has paid for a very striking billboard on US 101 that runs north-south along the Silicon Valley backbone. That billboard is highlighting the four-day visit of Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney.

Watch for Kenney to announce a foreign-founded startup in Silicon Valley to move to Canada. That would indicate a successful trip, though it’s unclear if Kenney has such a startup lined up.


Startup Visa: Numbers check—will it work for you?
Not in the US, within three years of applying:
  • $100k in funding OR
  • $250k in annual revenue
  • Infinite renewal if within the three year length of the visa:
    • $250k in funding ANDOR
    • $250k in annual revenue
In the US for at least two years and within three years, resulting in a green card:
  • $500k in funding OR
  • $750k in annual revenue

Especially for bootstrappers: email me your story to test edge cases.

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