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Angel Investment Fund, Unshackled Launches and commits $3.5M Seed Funding to Immigrant Startups

The United States does not have a startup visa that would allow foreign entrepreneurs already working in the U.S. on a work visa, to start running their own businesses. Well, that was until two entrepreneurs came up with a way around this restrictive immigration policy.

Credit: money.cnn.com

Credit: money.cnn.com

On November 12, an angel investment fund dubbed Unshackled launched, aiming at enabling foreign entrepreneurs, find a way to be able to work full-time on their startups. Backed by a $3.5 million fund, the investment fund is going to be a research and development lab, cum an incubator cum an employer.

Most foreigners working in the U.S. are using the H-1B visa that requires the immigrant to be sponsored by his/her employer. This would mean that the immigrant will be bound to their employer, and have little if any time to work on their startups. Unshackled has found a way around this restriction, by acting as an employer thus taking over the visa sponsorship.

Applications to the Unshackled angel investment fund is now open. The founders anticipate that in the coming two years, Unshackled will be working with 25 teams of early-stage entrepreneurs. Each team is expected to be made up of less than three people, but exceptions could be made in special circumstances. The team can also be made up of U.S. citizens.

Unshackled with set up offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto and California. The teams will also be given paycheck (of salaries ranging between $60,000 to $75,000). Unshackled has not yet given a specific date as to when the first startup will be taken on board, but the co-founder Nitin Pachisia said this will happen, “as soon as there’s a talent pool that we just can’t ignore. If that happens next week, it’ll happen that quickly.”

The startups that will be taken on board will work with Unshackled for six months, targeting to raise a round of funding. The institution will also avail an immigration attorney who will help the foreign entrepreneurs walk through the U.S. visa system, hoping that at the end of it they will get sponsored by their own companies.

Manan Mehta, another co-founder said, “We want to provide immigrant entrepreneurs in this country the same opportunities as current citizens. They’re here because they’re some of the brightest, hardest working individuals. Almost 70%, we estimate, have had to bury their innovative idea or have left the country to pursue their startup elsewhere.”

Pachisia and Mehta from India, move to the U.S. in 2005 and are both holder of the H-1 B visa. To form the Unshackled the duo had to assemble a team made of 55 investors comprising of 500 Startups, First Round Capital and the Brad Feld of Foundry Group. This team of 55 investors will play a meaningful role to any startup that become selected by Unshackled. Mehta also added that they stand a chance to get an additional $1 billion in followup funds.

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