One solution to our economic woes may already be gathering dust on the desks of our elected representatives. It may burn the eyes of some readers, but SB 565, which opens the door for immigrants with work visas to spend more time in the U.S., is an incredibly simple idea that could have potentially huge benefits for our economy.
Senators John Kerry and Mark Udall introduced the bill, called The StartUp Visa Act of 2011, at the beginning of this legislative session. In general its purpose is to allow immigrants to obtain two-year visas under certain conditions. An applicant may obtain one of these visas in three ways: First, they would be eligible to apply if a U.S. financial investor “sponsors” them with a minimum of $100,000. (After two years the startup must’ve bred at least five nonfamily jobs and generated over $500,000 in additional capital or revenue.) A second option targets people already in the country who’ve completed a graduate degree in math, computer science, engineering, etc. These people would qualify if they make more than $30,000 per year, and have acquired a capital investment greater than $20,000. Third, a person qualifies for this visa program with a controlling interest in a company that has generated more than $100,000 in sales within the U.S. in the preceding year.
The provisions of this bill allow for persons with motivation, capital and education to come to the U.S. and develop their ideas and ventures into revenue and job generating businesses. It’s a very common sense approach if you consider statistics related to past performance of immigrant startups in the U.S. Take Sergey Brin, for example, who is an immigrant who along with Larry Page launched a company called Google. (The company has experienced a 420 percent stock value increase since IPO.) Or there’s Andrew Grove who gave a hand to Intel. And if you’ve ever asked “excuse me, are those Bugle Boy Jeans you’re wearing?” then you’re tipping your cap to William Mow from China.
It would be hard to calculate the overall economic impact of immigrants — Bugle Boy alone generated sales of over $1 billion before folding in 1997 — but the contribution of these immigrant startups are easy to track. Kauffman Research finds that 31 percent of engineering and tech companies founded from 1995 to 2005 have an immigrant as a founder. Likewise Kauffman reported in 2007 that almost 26 percent of international patents applications filed in the U.S. had foreign nationals living in the U.S. named as inventor or co-inventor.
In an environment where immigrants have been historically key in tech startups, and at a period of history when tech startups are some of the highest revenue generating corporations in the country, then it would make sense to get people here who will build these companies. It makes more sense for our congressional representatives to pass a bill that will allow them to devote time and energy to creating jobs than filling out excess visa paperwork.
– Ryan O’Reilly
30 Aug 2011
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StartUp Visa could help U.S. economy
Posted on August 31, 2011