America Still Needs a True Entrepreneurship Visa

Senate and House Immigration Bills Fall Short in Attracting Entrepreneurs to America

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Immigrant entrepreneurs have long helped drive America’s economy. Warner Brothers, Anheuser Busch, Goya Foods, Goldman Sachs, Paramount Pictures, Sbarro, Forever 21, Google, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo!, Yurie Systems, Kraft, Pfizer, eBay, Nordstrom, and AT&T are just a few of the many major American companies that were started by immigrants. In fact, immigrants were more than twice as likely as Americans to start new businesses in 2011, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Immigrants or their children founded more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for aggregate revenues of $4.2 trillion andemploying more than 10 million people, according to a 2011 study by the Partnership for a New American Economy. This immigrant entrepreneurial activity has made America the world’s premier hub of international trade and global innovation.

However, bureaucratic restrictions make coming to America to start a new business extremely difficult, and the current proposals to address this are inadequate. The bipartisan Senateimmigration reform plan, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and ImmigrationModernization Act (S. 744), would ease some of these restrictions to allow in more foreign-bornentrepreneurs to create wealth and jobs in America, but it does not do nearly enough.

Unfortunately, the proposed visa under the bill is bureaucratic Catch-22. It requires immigrantsto have owned a U.S. business for two years before applying. In addition, its required investmentlevels would exclude more than 95 percent of America’s immigrant entrepreneurs. This is not aninternationally competitive proposal, as it would leave in place greater restrictions than thosefaced by immigrants in many other countries