As President Barack Obama begins his second term, small companies and the technology community are hoping for immigration reform to help them secure highly skilled foreign workers.
Overhauling U.S. immigration law has been long-awaited for years. But without political consensus on the issue, technology start-ups in particular have felt the pains of limited works visas. They've also absorbed the high legal fees associated with the visa process—costs that few cash-strapped upstarts can afford.
"I've been blown away by how much the immigration policy has been kicking us in the teeth," said Alex Salazar, chief executive and co-founder of Stormpath, a Silicon Valley start-up that's been struggling to find candidates in engineering, computer science and software development. Most of his candidates are from outside the U.S., and half the recruitment conversations are about visas.
"In Silicon Valley it's a war for talent—an all out knuckle-drag war," Salazar said. And America's current immigration policy only slows Salazar's ability to hire specialized talent in a tech sector that's hot, competitive and only growing.
Frustrated by how the drawn-out visa process is hampering his 11-employee business and its grow path, Salazar posted the following note on his Facebook page: "If you want to be a great startup CEO, become an expert in U.S. immigration policy."
(Read more: Why immigration reform may happen this year)