Entrepreneurial immigrants could mean creation of more jobs for U.S. citizens
Posted on January 28, 2012
With record-high unemployment and our representatives in Washington futilely grasping for ways to create jobs, you would think there would be shouting from the rooftops and cable TV victory laps when a true job-creating measure were enacted.
Curiously, an important policy change that will lead directly to more American jobs seems to have been enacted by the Obama administration with no fanfare at all. In a series of outreach efforts by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas, they have “outlined a series of policy, operational and outreach efforts to fuel the nation’s economy and stimulate investment by attracting foreign entrepreneurial talent of exceptional ability or who otherwise can create jobs, form startup companies, and invest capital in areas of high unemployment.”
As immigration attorneys, we experience daily the ways our outmoded immigration laws frustrate job creation. We see how tens of thousands of the top scientists, engineers, programmers and other key specialists whom we train in our universities are sent abroad to compete against us because we are unable to issue them a green card. We see how entrepreneurs who want to come to America to start businesses and create U.S. jobs go to Canada, Chile or Singapore instead because there is no entrepreneur visa in America.
The road for entrepreneurs is illustrative of how broken our immigration system really is. Because entrepreneurs generally cannot come here as owners or founders of their business, unless the business is already sizable and they come from a country with which we have a treaty, they are forced to contort logic and apply for a visa as employees.
Over the years, we have seen entrepreneurs spend thousands of dollars and endure months of bureaucratic waiting, only to be denied a visa to come here and found companies that they have gone on to successfully start elsewhere.
It is time for change, and look no further than Silicon Valley.
After years in the Israeli elite software development units, Amit Aharoni enrolled in Stanford University and received his MBA. He teamed up with a Stanford computer scientist and a business graduate from Harvard to found CruiseWise, a company that seeks to do for cruise booking what Kayak has done for flights. Within months CruiseWise had secured more than $1.5 million in venture capital funding and scaled up to nine employees. All seemed to be going well until Amit received a letter from USCIS informing him that he was rejected for his temporary high-skilled visa and had to leave the country immediately.
Amit flew to Canada and tried desperately to run his company from afar using Skype. But the difficulties of running a California company from British Columbia seemed insurmountable, and Amit began to consider, as so many spurned entrepreneurs had before him, of moving his company and jobs he created out of America.
But Amit was fortunate. He was a member of the Partnership for a New American Economy, the bipartisan coalition of more than 400 prominent business leaders and mayors making the case that smarter immigration policies would create American jobs. The partnership helped Amit tell his story to the public. He was featured on “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer,” and immediately following the broadcast, Amit received a letter from USCIS informing him that his visa application had been reconsidered and approved. Amit returned to California to get his American business back on track.
Amit’s story was a true success, but one that immigration lawyers assumed was an anomaly. When we subsequently applied for visas for our foreign entrepreneur clients, we assumed that we would continue to face the hassle and likely rejection that we have seen for years. Surprisingly, some of us have seen a trickle of our entrepreneur clients being approved. This emerging trend will allow new American businesses to flourish and more American jobs are going to be created.
So where is the shouting from the rooftops? Where is the cable TV victory lap? Immigration reform is a budget-neutral way to create jobs at a time when budget-neutral options are scarce. As immigration attorneys, we applaud the work that the USCIS director has done to maximize our job-creating potential, and we hope Congress will follow suit in embracing the economic imperative of immigration reform.
We call on Congress to enact a visa for entrepreneurs so we can roll out the carpet for job creators like Amit Aharoni. American jobs depend on it.
For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com