In the wake of the horrific tragedies that occurred on September 11, 2001, the United States revamped its immigration system to turn away any foreign nationals could pose a threat to the country. While this natural response has helped to increase national security, it has also had a stifling effect upon businesses established by foreign-born entrepreneurs.
As an immigration lawyer in Texas, I recognize that many of the most successful and driven business people in our communities often have foreign ties.
President Obama and Congress are beginning to realize that an immigration system that turns away the world’s best and brightest is putting the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage. In order to bring the most talented students and business people to America, the government has proposed the Startup Act 2.0. This act would provide 75,000 entrepreneur visas to business founders, as well as allow 50,000 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students to remain in the U.S.
These foreign-born entrepreneurs are a major source of economic activity and job creation. According to the Kauffman Foundation, in 2005, tech startups led by foreign-born CEOs generated almost $52 billion in revenue and employed almost 450,000 employees. Major tech companies like Google and eBay depend on thousands of foreign-born employees who have STEM backgrounds to fuel their company’s innovation and competitiveness.
The Startup Act 2.0 is not a free pass for anyone who would like to begin a company; there are rigorous requirements involved. For entrepreneurs establishing a company, they must hire at least two U.S. workers immediately and raise at least $100,000 in startup capital. They must also grow to hire at least five employees within the first few years.
Startup Act 2.0 has bipartisan support as well as strong advocacy from the business community but it faces a tough battle ahead. It was sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner and Chris Coons–both Democrats–as well as Jerry Moran and Marco Rubio–Republican Senators. Companies including Microsoft, Technet and Google have come out in support of the bill. President Obama even referenced keeping talented students in America in his inaugural speech.
The uncertainty of this legislation’s future is related to the broader immigration battle that is brewing. Despite its strong backing from important leaders and groups, the Startup Act 2.0 could become subsumed by a larger legislative package set forth by the President or Congressional leaders. Consequently, this critical piece of legislation may become a casualty of partisan bickering or sacrificed to ease passage.
As a highly experienced immigration lawyer in Austin, I am all too familiar with foreign born business people who attempt to establish an enterprise here but are overwhelmed by the numerous bureaucratic and legal challenges. I fully support Startup Act 2.0 and its intentions to help America foster innovation, job creation, and economic competitiveness.
If you or someone you know is foreign-born and attempting the Herculean task of trying to begin their business here, I am available to assist them with visa issues. Please contact me at (512) 215-5225 to set up a private consultation.