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Clinton campaign proposes new ‘startup visa’ and student loan breaks for entrepreneurs

Clinton campaign proposes new ‘startup visa’ and student loan breaks for entrepreneurs

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Elizabeth Warren Campaigns With Hillary Clinton In Cincinnati
Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images

Today, the Hillary Clinton campaign unveiled a new technology initiative, laying out the presumptive democratic presidential nominee’s proposals on a range of tech issues. In most cases, the plan continues policies put in place by President Obama and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, but also puts forward a number of unexpected immigration and student debt programs aimed at spurring entrepreneurship within the US.

Clinton’s immigration proposal is particularly notable, offering a "startup visa" for foreign entrepreneurs who want to move to the US to start a business. "Immigrant entrepreneurs would have to obtain a commitment of financial support from U.S. investors before obtaining the visa, and would have to create a certain number of jobs and reach performance benchmarks in order to pursue a green card," the proposal reads.

New proposals on a range of issues

It’s unclear if that visa would fall under the existing H1-B designation, but it’s similar to a number of guest worker proposals advocated by Mark Zuckerberg’s advocacy group, which focused on employees of larger companies. It's also similar to a number of existing investor visa programs, which have been criticized as a way for wealthy immigrants to gain citizenship in exchange for investment capital, effectively buying their way into the green card system.

Clinton also proposed new student debt programs aimed at spurring entrepreneurship among young Americans. The new proposal would create a new student loan deferment for entrepreneurs, similar to deferments already offered for internships, residencies, and further study. The deferment would last for up to three years, and be available to both founders and potentially as many as 20 early employees.

If a startup operates in a distressed community or is found to "provide measurable social impact and benefit," the proposal would also forgive as much as $17,500 of a loan after five years. While impressive, that figure covers less than half of the average American student loan load on graduation, which experts estimate at over $37,000.

The initiative also extends support for many crucial FCC programs already underway, including net neutrality and the transition to 5G. More ambitiously, the initiative promises to extend affordable broadband to every household in America by 2020, a long-held goal among some progressives. "Hillary will finish the job of connecting America’s households to the internet," the initiative promises.