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Press Release

NYCEDC Announces “Last Call” for IN2NYC Program Applications

Jul 27 2016

Applicants can apply through the program’s website at through July 29

IN2NYC will support 80 entrepreneurs and create more than 700 new jobs for New Yorkers in first three years

NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced a “last call” for applications for its International Innovators Initiative (IN2NYC) program in partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY). IN2NYC is the first municipal program in the nation designed to help international entrepreneurs access visas so they can create jobs in the United States. In its first three years, IN2NYC will support up to 80 entrepreneurs and is projected to create more than 700 new jobs for New Yorkers.

Since launching in May 2016, IN2NYC has received applications from entrepreneurs in 38 countries, spanning across 5 continents. Entrepreneurs from the United Kingdom, China, India, France, Ukraine and Italy have submitted the most applications, but a variety of countries, including Kenya, Brazil, Morocco, Jamaica, the Philippines and Nigeria, have also been represented through multiple applications.

Applicants have launched innovative businesses operating in a diverse array of sectors, including financial services, e-commerce and digital media. Entrepreneurs can apply for IN2NYC through the program’s website at until July 29th at 11:59pm. (EST). A second round of applications will open in fall 2016 as the program continues to fill capacity at all seven CUNY schools.

Following this competitive process, each selected entrepreneur will be matched with a CUNY school to form a collaborative partnership that will enable entrepreneurs to qualify for cap-exempt H-1B visas. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to build their businesses in CUNY co-working spaces alongside other innovators, while also furthering the mission of their partner CUNY school by contributing to academic research, developing curricula, providing students with internship and employment opportunities or serving as mentors.

“We are thrilled to see so many international entrepreneurs express interest in growing their businesses in New York City." said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. "It speaks to the vibrancy of our economy and the potential to leverage talent around the world to create opportunities for New Yorkers.”

IN2NYC was announced in February 2016 as an effort to help international entrepreneurs who have started a business overseas relocate or expand their business to the United States. International students graduating from U.S. universities who have started their own businesses are also eligible to apply. All applicants must have an established business offering a product and/or service suitable for the NYC market at the time of application.

Our current federal immigration system makes it difficult for many foreign-born entrepreneurs to start or grow businesses in the United States. Meanwhile, countries like Canada and the United Kingdom have created "founder visa" programs that encourage entrepreneurs to locate companies within their borders, threatening to deprive the United States - and New York City - of the jobs of the future.

The H-1B visa can provide a pathway for foreign entrepreneurs seeking to work in the United States. However, entrepreneurs working to grow their own businesses are faced with the challenge of demonstrating eligibility for an H-1B visa, as H-1B visas require individuals to be part of an employer-employee relationship.

Moreover, recipients of H-1B visas are chosen based on a random selection or lottery system that occurs only once a year and awards merely 65,000 to 85,000 H-1B visas annually, a number that represents approximately a quarter of the applications received. The New York City metro area alone has contributed more than 50,000 applications in recent years, the highest demand for H-1B visas in the nation.

IN2NYC will allow international entrepreneurs to overcome these challenges in two key ways:

  • By providing entrepreneurs with the support to form an independent board of directors, which establishes an employer-employee relationship between the company and the entrepreneur, enabling the company through its board to sponsor an H-1B petition on behalf of the entrepreneur.
  • By partnering entrepreneurs with CUNY schools, which enables entrepreneurs to provide direct contributions to the United States through their work on behalf of institutions of higher education and qualify for an exemption to the H-1B cap, allowing entrepreneurs to apply for a cap-exempt H-1B visa at any time during the year.

IN2NYC demonstrates a model that can be scaled and expanded at both public and private schools throughout New York City, with the potential to ultimately contribute thousands of jobs to the city’s innovation economy. The program advances the de Blasio administration’s goals of encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting international partnerships to build a diverse and inclusive economy for New Yorkers in every borough.

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.