The universities will sponsor between 10 to 20 visas for start-up founders in the first year of the program.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday announced that five Chicago-based universities â€“ Columbia College, DePaul University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University and Northwestern University â€“ will launch Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR).
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 program.
â€œWe want entrepreneurs to see Chicago as a place where their ideas dreams their companies can happen,â€ Mayor Emanuel said in a news conference. â€œI believe this initiative… is saying yes to entrepreneurship, yes to diversity and most importantly, yes to the future of the city of Chicago.â€
The universities will sponsor entrepreneurs based on their companyâ€™s growth.Â Early stage entrepreneurs will be employed part-time for the university and work separately on their companies. The established start-ups will get a chance to make a home base at their sponsor university and mentor its students.
These application would likely be exempt from an annual cap on H-1B visas, which restricts spots to 65,000, with another 20,000 reserved for those with masterâ€™s degrees or higher. The universities will independently run the admissions and reviews, although the requirements and decisions would be unique.
Indian American Shradha Agarwal, the co-founder of Outcome Health, also shared her experience as an aspiring immigrant entrepreneur during the news conference.
â€œThe first year, I didnâ€™t get the visa. We (Agarwal and Rishi Shah) started making plans for what this meant for our company,â€ Agarwal said.
â€œFortunately, the second time around, I did hit the lottery… but it shouldnâ€™t be that way. It shouldnâ€™t be held to such uncertainty.â€
Massachusetts also launched a similar program in 2014, first at University of Massachusettsâ€™ Boston and Lowell campuses, and more recently at Babson College. The university has sponsored 23 local entrepreneurs whose companies have created 416 jobs and raised $185 million in private investment, the mayorâ€™s office said.