Chicago universities to sponsor start-up entrepreneurs on H-1B visas

Chicago’s universities will sponsor start-up founders on H1B visas which won’t come under the annual H1B visa cap restricting spots to 65,000 (with another 20,000 for holders of master’s degrees or higher), Indian-American news porta americanbazaaronline has reported.

Chicago-based Columbia College, DePaul University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University and Northwestern University – will launch Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR), inviting entrepreneurs to campuses.

The Indian American news portal quoted Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel as saying that the universities will work with the City of Chicago and sponsor between 10 to 20 visas for start-up founders in the first year of the programme. “We want entrepreneurs to see Chicago as a place where their ideas dreams their companies can happen,” he had said.

“This initiative… is saying yes to entrepreneurship, yes to diversity and most importantly, yes to the future of the city of Chicago,” he reportedly said.

The universities will assess a company’s growth before sponsoring its entrepreneurs. Those whose startups are at an early stage will be employed part-time for the university and work separately on their companies. Established start-ups will get a chance to make a home base at their sponsor university and mentor its students.

Applications are likely to be exempt from an annual cap on H-1B visas, which restricts spots to 65,000, with another 20,000 reserved for those with master’s degrees or higher. The universities will run the admissions and reviews independently.

Massachusetts also launched a similar programme in 2014, first at University of Massachusetts’ Boston and Lowell campuses, and later at Babson College. The university has sponsored 23 local entrepreneurs whose companies have created 416 jobs and raised $185 million in private investment, the mayor’s office said.