Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash
An Obama-era rule allows immigrant founders of companies in the US to stay for two and a half years, with the possibility of an extension, but that opportunity is in danger. Last year, The Department of Homeland Security pushed out its effective date to March 2018 while announcing that rule would eventually be eliminated.
DHS recently filed that elimination proposal, citing existing visas—such as the E-3 and EB-5 classifications—that allow certain entrepreneurs to start businesses and work in the United States. The administration and other advocates for eliminating this rule argue that immigrants are taking jobs from US workers, though that’s not really the case.
With the current administration’s habit of enforcing broader and more stringent immigration policies, we’re not surprised, but we’re still disappointed.
Existing visas are restrictive
The E-2 “investor visa” allows a person with a substantial investment to work inside of the United States but are only available to citizens of certain countries. For startups, the investment must be large enough to start and operate the business—if it’s not large enough to capitalize the business, the visa will be denied.
The EB-5 visa requires an investment of at least $1,000,000 into a business that creates and maintains (for the two-year duration of the visa) 10 jobs for US workers, not counting the investor or their immediate family.
What about the H-1B? Under the Trump Administration, there’s been an increase of denials and requests for evidence—41% in the last quarter of 2017 alone. Despite economists well-cited evidence that highly skilled foreign scientists and engineers benefit America, the Trump Administration is limiting their entry into the country.
Immigrants are good for our economy
Out of the 87 billion-dollar startups founded in 2016, more than half were founded by immigrants, according to a report by the National Foundation for American Policy. Of those, the top 11 startups (including SpaceX, WeWork, and Uber) employ more than 17,000 people–actually creating jobs that didn’t exist before. Together, those billion-dollar startups created more than 33,000 jobs.
Cultural impact of immigrant entrepreneurs
More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Top executives at Microsoft, Google, and Oracle were born overseas. Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs are both children of immigrants. Beyond the jobs created by these companies and the money injected into the US economy, they’ve contributed to iconic products and paradigm shifts for the way we live our lives.
A study from the New American Economy estimates that the entrepreneur rule could create more than 300,000 new American jobs over the next 10 years. That’s a high price to pay for rescinding the entrepreneur visa.
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