In 1873, German immigrant Levi Strauss made the first pair of blue jeans. In 1968, Hungarian-born Andy Grove founded the world’s largest computer-chip maker, Intel. They’re just two examples of an American tradition of immigrants who arrive, start a small business and create millions of jobs.
Unfortunately, due to an outdated visa system, too many of the world’s brightest entrepreneurial minds aren’t here. Some have come to the United States, received training at our universities, and then been forced to leave. Others haven’t been able to find a path here in the first place.
Over the last six months, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the Small Business Administration and leaders throughout the administration travelled around the country and heard a resounding message from hundreds of entrepreneurs and small business owners: This needs to change.
As a result, recently the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced several steps to move in a better direction.
First, the administration clarified that if an immigrant entrepreneur has an advanced degree or exceptional ability, and shows their work will be in the country’s national interest, they may qualify for a green card. This will help keep America on the cutting edge, and maintain an avenue for these entrepreneurs to come to the U.S., stay and start creating jobs.
Second, existing public guidance was updated to clarify that immigrant entrepreneurs who own their own business may qualify for the H-1B non-immigrant visa program. This helps businesses that need help from workers in specialized fields like science, engineering and computer programming.
Third, an existing program will be expanded that allows employers to get a faster answer on applications for immigrant employees, particularly multinational executives and managers.
Fourth, government will transform and accelerate the review of applications for immigrant investors who seek to invest capital and create jobs in the U.S. and do more to reach out specifically to entrepreneurs to make sure that Immigration Services can address the unique circumstances of entrepreneurs, new businesses and startup companies through smart changes to policies and regulations. The goal is to reduce barriers to business growth and job creation.
What is clear is that the U.S. must move forward to maximize the impact that immigrant entrepreneurs have on the economy.
We already know their impact is huge. Immigrant business owners generate more than 10 per cent of U.S. business income each year. They represent nearly 17 per cent of new business owners in America.
In a 21st-century global economy, we must continue to attract and retain people whose ideas are creating more and better jobs — regardless of whether they are born here or abroad.
11 Aug 2011 Karen Mills & John Doerr
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U.S. working to attract immigrant entrepreneurs
Posted on August 13, 2011