As Anderson explains, over the past decade there have been attempts in Congress to pass legislation and create a Start-up Visa, but none have passed. Last month Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) reintroduced the Startup Act, which would create a visa category for entrepreneurs from other countries who want to launch start-ups in the U.S. The bipartisan legislation was first introduced in 2017. If enacted, it would make 75,000 start-up visas available to international entrepreneurs.
The bill would also establish a visa for 50,000 international students receiving masters or Ph.D. degrees in STEM fields from American universities. Those visa-holders would have the opportunity to obtain a green card and remain in the country after graduating. Finally, the bill would eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas. Currently it has been referred to the Judiciary Committee for review.
Under current immigration law, there's no real avenue for entrepreneurs from other country's to launch start-ups in the U.S. After immigration reform stalled in Congress, President Barack Obama created a workaround called the International Entrepreneur Rule, allowing founders with start-ups that meet certain benchmarks of success to grow their companies in the U.S. for a few years. Trump tried to squash the rule, but that effort was challenged in court. The administration lost and the International Entrepreneur Rule remains intact, but its future is uncertain.
"Many organizations and companies are supporters of the Startup Act including the National Venture Capital Association and the National Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation," says Tom Brandt, press officer for Sen. Moran.
"America continues to fall behind in new business development and struggles to retain top talent that could grow our U.S. economy," Moran said in a statement earlier this month. "With a renewed sense of urgency, Congress must prioritize policies that will help recruit and retain highly skilled students and innovators."
Imagine a world without such U.S. innovators as Elon Musk, the wunderkind who emigrated from South Africa to launch Tesla, SpaceX and other disruptive companies; or Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, who came to America with his family when he was 6 years old.
A new study from the National Foundation for American Policy finds that 55 percent, or 50 of 91 of the country's $1 billion start-up companies, had at least one immigrant founder. These companies are job generators that have created an average of more than 1,200 jobs per company, the vast majority in the U.S.
The collective value of the 50 immigrant-founded companies in the U.S.: a whopping $248 billion.